By now, South Florida residents should be finished with preparations to ride out Hurricane Irma in place — or else be ready to evacuate immediately, local officials warned late Friday. But even as officials urged residents on barrier islands and along the coast to leave, local shelters were filling up fast while the county scrambled to open more safe spaces after a chaotic beginning to the biggest evacuation effort in Miami-Dade history.

“This is an unprecedented event,” Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said early Friday as fleeing residents encountered closed shelters. “We are now rewriting the book as we go.” Gimenez, who began evacuation orders on Thursday, acknowledged some glitches in the process of opening shelters for as many as 100,000 people. READ MORE