Cleveland County acts as a stepping stone for travelers avoiding Irma

Cleveland County acts as a stepping stone for travelers avoiding Irma

CLEVELAND COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Staying north of Irma was the collective goal of drivers from Florida and Georgia who were at the North Carolina Welcome Center in Cleveland County off of I-85 Friday.

Planning a safe escape route is a matter of necessity for Shirley Kelley, who lives near the dividing line between the two states impacted the most.

"It's not really to close enough to affect us yet, but people are moving up from south Florida," Kelley said.

It's not just fleeing motorists planning out the next few days, but supply and demand issues are also driving people to retail outlets.

A shipment of generators arrived at the Shelby Hardware Store, but buying such a big-ticket item comes with a specific warning. Taking it home means that no returns are allowed.

Tim Ledford is among those enforcing the policy.

"You can't sell it once it's been taken out of the store, and the box damaged and that kind of stuff," Ledford explained.

Back at the truck stop, drivers were exhaling after facing bumper-to-bumper moments on interstates through Florida and Georgia. Sharon Brew and her husband from Ocala faced the same scenario and were caring for their pets that can't fend for themselves.

"I would have stayed if it wasn't such a large hurricane," Brew said, "but this one is big."

Not just big, as some drivers summed up.

"It's scary. It is," Kelley said. "It's real scary."

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