evacuations

JULIO OCHOA / WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

The C130's four propeller engines scream as it lifts lifts off from MacDill Air Force base in Tampa. The plane is loaded with pallets of medical supplies bound for St. Croix, nine days after the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands took a direct hit from Hurricane Maria.

But the flight's true mission is getting patients in critical need of health care off the island and into hospitals in Columbia, South Carolina and Atlanta.

So far, hundreds of patients have been brought to those hospitals along with facilities in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Traffic jams across the state trapped evacuees for hours Thursday, but Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) chief spokesman Captain Jeffrey Bassainthe says his agency has enough personnel to do the job.

“Well we have over 1,700 troopers staffed, so like I said, all personnel, office personnel, are out of the office, days off have been cancelled and we’re working 12-hour shifts," said Bassainthe. "We want to ensure that we have maximum staffing and that we’re out there to assist the public into helping them get there safely.”