This is What Panic Looks Like: Thousands Stuck in Gridlock After Failing to Prepare

Traffic as far as the eye can see: Thousands of families have been caught in gridlock across the state and up the East Coast into the Carolinas and Georgia, as they flee their homes ahead of the storm - while the National Guard trucks drive towards the evacuation zones to assist 

Courtesy of

  • Hurricane Matthew is expected to hit southern Florida late this evening and move up the East Coast 
  • Powerful storm claimed at least 140 lives after it ripped through the Dominican Republic and Haiti Tuesday causing mudslides and flooding in the latter yesterday 
  • President Barack Obama has declared a federal state of emergency in Florida as the hurricane approaches
  • The storm intensified to a ‘catastrophic’ Category Four this morning with sustained winds of 140mph 
  • There are fears Matthew could combine with Tropical Storm Nicole, forming further east over the Atlantic  
  • National Weather Service has advised ‘loss of life’ and ‘immense human suffering’ is possible 
  • Seven million people could be left without power and some areas left ‘uninhabitable’ for months
  • Two million people in the US have been urged to evacuate their homes in preparation for a ‘direct hit’
  • Gov. Scott warned Florida warns that the storm ‘is going to kill people’ after declaring a state emergency 
  • South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said only 175,000 have evacuated so far, warning ‘that’s not enough’ 
  • Disney has now confirmed that all theme parks will be closed at 5pm and won’t reopen until Saturday

By late morning, Hurricane Matthew had grown from a possibly devastating Category 3 storm to a potentially catastrophic Category 4. The eye of the storm is already more organized since it hit Haiti, thus becoming stronger. Forecasters are suggesting that West Palm Beach and Cape Canaveral areas farther north could get the brunt of the storm.

094542w5 nl sm FIRST WARNING WX: Hurricane Matthew Gains New Fury As It Hurtles to Florida, But Some Residents Staying Put

This is the latest report for the fast-moving hurricane.

Some Residents are Not Taking Hurricane Matthew Seriously

Florida Governor Rick Scott has urged all Florida residents to take the storm seriously and earnestly prepare and/or evacuate to a safer area, but for some, his pleas have fallen on deaf ears. With 200 million evacuating the roads are gridlocked because many waited too long to leave the area.

One way traffic: Cars can be seen on just one side of the road stretching back for miles along the Florida highway on Thursday

Courtesy of

While many are taking the hurricane warning seriously and preparing or evacuating, some are not taking the fury of this storm seriously. In fact, one Florida resident shrugged it off and said, “The hype is going to be worse than the actual storm. I feel I can do quite well,” said Long, who owns a bike shop and plans to ride out the storm with his cat in his 32-foot recreational vehicle a half-mile from the ocean. He has lived in the Space Coast area for three decades. “There’s always tremendous buildup and then it’s no stronger than an afternoon thunderstorm. I’m not anticipating that much damage,” he said Wednesday. Source

Overconfidence Can Kill

One of most common mistakes in disaster preparedness is overconfidence. You cannot put a gauge on Mother Nature. Storms like Matthew can quickly get out of hand, especially due to storm surges that forecasters are estimating to be between 3-6 feet and some residents believe this hurricane could give some residents a wake up call.

Those left in the wake of disasters and have not prepared adequately tend to take matters in their own hands if they feel desperate enough. This is the perfect storm for a breakdown if the state of Florida is not prepared. Residents who have stayed behind will face gas shortages, supply delivery stalls, looting, lack of water and essentially, residents will be left to fend for themselves until help can arrive.

One can only surmise how far-reaching this storm will be, but rest assured, there will be massive amounts of damage and not preparing for this storm could get you killed. These are essentials you need to prepare for and understand how devastating these types of disasters are.



Medical Needs




Don’t Be Another Statistic

Now that you understand what we’re dealing with, there are ways you can use this information to prepare for the next event so that you will be a part of the population that is ready for what may come.

Ultimately, you are the only one who can best care for your family. Having a stash of your family’s favorite canned or dry goods, a supply of water and a simple medical kit can maintain your basic needs for a short-lived disaster. This simple preparedness supply could set you apart from the unprepared.

If you live in a highly populated area, understand that resources will diminish quickly, so preparing beforehand can circumvent this. You can always start out with these basic preparedness items to get through a disaster:

  1. Food and alternative ways to cook food
  2. Water – 1 gallon per person/per day for consuming only. Plan more for sanitary needs.
  3. Fuel for generators. Also consider charcoal for outdoor grills
  4. Batteries and battery charger
  5. Flashlights and lanterns
  6. Generator
  7. Emergency lighting
  8. Ice
  9. Medical supply
  10. Items for baby needs
  11. Sanitation supplies


The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published October 6th, 2016
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7 Responses to This is What Panic Looks Like: Thousands Stuck in Gridlock After Failing to Prepare

  1. Brenda Somers says:

    It is now 6:30pm and gas shortages have already been noted on the news. Some stations are closing so they will have gas in the AM for those that still need it.

    We’ve heard on the news that a hurricane has not hit the East Coast of Florida, above the Homestead area, in 100 years. Added to that, it is estimated that every 10 years the population in Florida has 7 new residents out of every 10. People from the mid-west and inland New England simply do not understand the power of a hurricane.

    Hurricane Charley in 2004 or 2005 was a very small, very fast moving storm that did tremendous damage to the west coast area around Charlotte County – it was a Cat 4 accompanied by many small tornadoes.

    People need to listen, prepare and take action. Every hurricane season – June thru Nov – there are handouts, TV spots, radio spots, newspaper articles, free seminars – so there is NO reason whatsoever NOT to be prepared.

    BTW – we were here for Charley living in a manufactured home (trailer). We went to the Red Cross approved evac center in the mobile home park prepared for a 12 hour stay. We had chairs, blankets, pillows and food. Most others had snacks, sodas, etc like it was a party. They were in for a very rude awakening as 1/2 the units in the park were destroyed, we were lucky as ours was liveable. We fared very well with no hand wringing, no tears, no whatever shall we do now. We live in a house now, still on the west coast, and can easily be on our own with all supplies needed for about 9 months – after 3 months we’d have to get water, but as we’re on city water it shouldn’t be a problem.

    • Tess says:


      Thank you so much for sharing this will us. Please continue to update us, as I’m sure we all want to know what’s happening! Prayers to you and your family!

      Be Safe,


      • Brenda Somers says:

        We’re on the west coast and are fine, just some wind, showers and clouds. Our hotels are full of evacuees but as we have power, no one is going without food, fuel or a roof over their heads.

  2. Tim Webb says:

    Look at the picture.
    Is it beyond the wit of the American mind to close off one or both lanes of the opposing carriageway and get these vehicles moving west again?
    Is this too complex a decision to make?
    Why have the state authorities not implemented the strategy in their disaster planning scenarios?

    • Tess says:

      Hi Tim,

      As far as I know, they did end up opening contraflow lanes, although it was much later. It is beyond my understanding, why they don’t do this earlier and revert traffic to prevent the gridlock. Anybody care to shed some light on this?



      • Jackson says:

        Here in Alabama as soon as evacuation is mandatory they open all lanes of I-65 to go north or all lanes on I-10 to go whatever direction is needed. Why florida did not do it is a question for the governor and emergency people. We have been doing it for over 10 years I know of. So it is nothing new.

  3. Jackson says:

    Why did they not have all lanes opened for leaving or going away from the storm? Close the incoming lanes. Yhay is what we do here in Mobile Al. with interstate 65. All lanes are opened going north. The south bound lanes are turned into north bound lanes. That removes tremendous amount of traffic stress and moves traffic away from the storm faster. That should be protocol. We always leave when a cat 3 or higher is going to hit. We leave at the first mention it will hit. We have learned to maintain supplies all the time,rotate stock, emergency food,fuel with stabilizer, safety and security items,medicines and medical equipment,all camping supplies, utility trailer to haul stuff in with a good tow vehicle,food/water/medicines for our pets.

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