Wilma plods toward Florida as residents flee

Residents began fleeing the Florida Keys and parts of the mainland as Hurricane Wilma plodded toward Florida, its slower-than-expected path prolonging

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October 22, 2005 07:02
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Residents began fleeing the Florida Keys and parts of the mainland as Hurricane Wilma plodded toward Florida, its slower-than-expected path prolonging the anxious wait for a fierce storm that could hit the state Monday. The Category 4 hurricane earlier had been expected to strike somewhere on Florida's west coast this weekend. Its erratic movement frustrated residents already worried about what would be the eighth hurricane to hit or pass near the state since August 2004. Scattered gas shortages were reported in parts of Florida, but Gov. Jeb Bush said the state had a 10-day supply of fuel. Some highways were jammed as people fled the west coast, but police told the governor most of the congestion was from accidents. Landfall in Florida was not likely until sometime Monday afternoon. Wilma will likely linger over the Yucatan for a few days, which should weaken the hurricane's top sustained winds to 130 mph (209 kph) or lower. Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys, encouraged voluntary evacuations for all residents of the low-lying island chain Friday, and on the Gulf Coast, Collier County ordered mandatory evacuations for Naples and Marco Island.



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