By Carey Codd

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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — It’s crunch time in Broward County ahead of Hurricane Irma and Broward County Emergency Management Director Miguel Ascurrinz has a simple message for people who live in mandatory evacuation zones — there’s still time to evacuate.

They came with bags and suitcases and blankets to the county’s shelters on Thursday. People from all walks of life, united together in need of shelter from Hurricane Irma.

“It’s scary,” said Nathan Benton, who lives in an evacuation zone and is staying at a county shelter. ”Looking at the news and seeing how it wiped out other towns and stuff, I mean, it’s pretty rough.”

Irma’s winds and water are sending people to the county’s emergency shelters. The one at Pompano Beach High School is full. It can hold 297 people. Other shelters, like the one at Arthur Ashe Middle School in Fort Lauderdale, have lots of space. That shelter can accommodate about 2,000 people.

County Mayor Barbara Sharief says people who live within the threat of storm surge east of US-1 and in mobile homes, and low-lying areas, need to evacuate.

“Get out now,” she said. “Your window of time to evacuate is closing rapidly.”

The last flight out of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International is Friday at 7:45 pm. After that, the airport will close for several days. Bus service will continue until tropical storm force winds arrive. Also, the county has set up a hotline number of 311 if you have a hurricane related question or issue. It may take a little while for them to get back with you but be patient.

Across Broward residents were making last-minute purchases and preparations on Thursday and Nathan Benton wants everyone to pay heed to Irma’s power and get to safety.

“Come up out of the house and stop being bashful. Stop feeling like this storm is not gonna do too much or it’s gonna turn. Get up, pack your stuff, get out of the house to safe ground,” Benton said.


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