Troopers out in force on interstates as Hurricane Matthew looms

Vacations are canceled, all hands on deck

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – As Hurricane Matthew comes barreling toward the US, it’s all hands on deck for the Florida Highway Patrol. Troopers will be out in force during the next few days to make sure traffic runs smoothly as people evacuate South Florida.

State Trooper Kenn Watson just canceled a vacation he had planned. Work called him in.

RELATED: Gov. warns that Matthew could be devastating, urges preparation

“We are suspending all of our vacation time (and) allotted time off to have as many people on the road as possible to assist all of our travelers,” Watson said.

On Wednesday he was on I-75, keeping an eye over the influx of travelers expected this week. “If we’re going to be using our interstate to get people to a safe area, those roadways must be clear,” Watson said.

In anticipation of evacuees, construction work has been stopped along I-75 in hopes of avoiding delays.  Construction will remain halted until the storm passes.

RELATED: Gasoline availability tracker 

In addition, troopers will be watching for erratic drivers and quickly clearing accident scenes.

“If assistance is needed, our response time will be phenomenal,” Watson said.

Many troopers are headed east, directly into the storm’s path. These officers are part of the Reaction Force Team. They’re specially trained to handle dangerous emergency situations, such as riots. In the busy aftermath of a storm, they provide help when police departments are overwhelmed.

“They are trained, they are efficient, and they are ready to go,” Watson said. “They have the equipment and the ability to go into areas where a normal patrol car cannot.” provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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