Confusion amid open/closed shelters in Miami-Dade County

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Several buses filled with people searching for an open shelter have ended up at a Miami-Dade school that was recently classified as a shelter and is already full.

G. Holmes Braddock High School was not originally classified as a shelter. However, a long line of people waited outside to take refuge, Friday afternoon.

7News spoke with a few people who said they had gone to a shelter that was full. They said the Red Cross at that shelter told them to go to Braddock High School.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said he is currently trying to determine what the capacity is for Braddock. According to the mayor, the school has a capacity for 300 people, but it’s possible that they have the capacity for 1,000.

Gimenez said he wants county bus drivers to wait until they get orders from the county and acknowledged that there has been a communication issue with a lot of the shelters.

“You need to be calm. This is an extraordinary situation,” Gimenez said. “You have to be calm about it. You have to make sure when you send a bus to somewhere, there actually is space.”

Several county buses could be seen lined up and filled with people who evacuated their homes. They have been making multiple stops, going from one shelter to another with no luck. They said that every time they went to a shelter, it was at full capacity.

One woman told 7News that she went to four different shelter locations before arriving at Braddock High School. Within an hour, Braddock was at full capacity, officials said.

“Oh, my goodness, we had about four or five stops we had to make,” said Sandra Shearill. “Yes, they were full.”

Families, including children, have been standing out in the hot sun for hours. Although shelter managers are trying to filter everyone through as quickly as they can, people are still frustrated with the situation.

“The shelter in South Miami is already full when we went this morning,” said Abioris Caba. “That’s why we came here. We just stayed since 8 a.m.”

According to one bus driver, the National Guard at one shelter directed him to a different shelter, which ended up being full. He said the National Guard sent him to another shelter, which was also full. The bus driver said a National Guard member then sent him with a bus full of people to Braddock High School.

“Some of these buses have stopped at two or three different places to shelters that are full,” Gimenez said. “They need to calm down, get the right numbers and then send them to the right place so that these folks can get the shelter.”

Miami-Dade County Public School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho also said this issue needs to be tightened up.

“We opened this shelter based on the county request, manned and staffed by the National Guard at 2 o’clock. That was the opening time, but we could not wait,” Carvalho said. “There were people out in the sun, and we made an executive decision, even without the appropriate staff from the National Guard to let people in, get them in the air conditioning, get them some food and water.”

He also said that the school district provides the building but doesn’t run the shelter.

“With all these major operations, there’s going to be some hiccups,” Gimenez said. “We normally open up only 12 shelters. We’re gonna open up 43 shelters. The number of people that are seeking refuge and shelter is far, far greater than any other storm.”

If you’re planning to stay in South Florida during Hurricane Irma, you can see what shelters are available here.

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