Light traffic on SWFL freeways could indicate fewer evacuees
Despite mandatory evacuations in communities throughout Southwest Florida in advance of Hurricane Ian Tuesday, the lack of traffic on roadways from South Cape Coral to Interstate 75 made it clear residents were not heeding the warnings.
When police in Cape Coral started moving through neighborhoods early Tuesday afternoon with loudspeakers announcing a mandatory evacuation "you must leave" little changed. Key stores remained open and cars stayed parked in driveways as the first rain bands moved through.
Later in the afternoon along I-75 there was none of the bumper-to- bumper traffic reminiscent of previous evacuations as people fled to Gainesville or further north.
Perhaps it was born out of a sense the storm is so big there's nowhere to go, but the traffic in both directions on I-75 was light. Several packs of police cars and ambulances with their lights on headed south near Venice, Englewood, and Punta Gorda.
The interstate, which has been undergoing a year's long widening project in the Sarasota region, had been stripped clear of all cones, barriers and other signs of construction.
Police and other emergency services were out in force throughout Charlotte and Sarasota counties later Tuesday. Most, if not all of the law enforcement presence, could vanish once sustain winds hit 40 or 45 mph.
Traffic along Sarasota County's main east-west corridors was as reminiscent of a typical day as in the rest of the region.
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