Atlanta Motor Speedway equipped to take in thousands of Irma evacuees

HENRY COUNTY, Ga. — Floridians chased out of their homes by Hurricane Irma are arriving in Georgia by the thousands and some are seeking shelter at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The speedway has opened its campgrounds to evacuees and for most of them, they told Channel 2’s Berndt Petersen the trip took three to four hours longer than it should have.

Severe Weather Team 2's team of five meteorologists will be working non-stop throughout the next few days as Hurricane Irma gets closer to Georgia. Stay tuned to Channel 2 Action News and check back with WSBTV.com as we continue to track the storm's progress and the impact it will have on Georgia. 

By the time Florida resident Jack Sagdalen pulled his big RV into Atlanta Motor Speedway his nerves were shot.

"Coming up 75 was not very welcoming," Sagdalen told Petersen.

"What was it like?" Petersen asked.

"Mostly dead stop," Sagdalen said.

Sagdalen and his wife, Betty Sagdalen, came all the way from Venice, Florida, on the Sunshine State's southeast coast.


"The entire state of Florida is evacuating and they've got to have somewhere to go.

Hotels are filled.

Their opportunities are probably limited right now," Atlanta Motor Speedway president Ed Clark said.

The speedway has opened its campgrounds to Florida evacuees. It has more than 800 acres that can hold more than 100,000 people.

The Sagdalens are glad to have somewhere to run to. They've ridden out hurricanes before but were not going to test one like this.

"I love Florida and where we live, but Irma changed our minds and our plans," Betty Sagdalen said.

"When we left it was anybody's guess. It still is. Where we live, it's all pine trees. If it comes close, they'll all come down," her husband told Petersen.

The speedway actually has a race Saturday. There were no plans for spectators, but to do something nice for the Floridians, they're opening a grandstand so they can watch it.

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