Tampa airport to close Saturday evening

- Tampa International Airport plans to shut down all flights Saturday night ahead of Hurricane Irma.  The airport tweeted that it will "cease commercial airline operations" at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Earlier, the airport announced at least 13 cancelations on Friday morning for areas affected by the powerful storm.  Southwest Airlines and others had already canceled some weekend flights, too.

The airport says you should monitor your flight status here: www.tampaairport.com/flight-status.

Meanwhile, as evacuations are underway, airport officials provided the following information:

- Parking: There is parking available for passengers, said Danny Valentine, TIA spokesperson. He stressed it's only available for passengers.

- Shelter: The airport is not a designated shelter, that means the facility does not have the staffing, food or water resources that you might get a designated shelter.

- Conflict with flight cancelations: Valentine said it's hard to determine which flights are truly canceled. His advise is to contact your airline.

On Friday morning, TIA was bustling with travelers, many trying to leave the state altogether. Lashonda Davidson, of Riverview, was leaving with her children to fly to Dallas. She said her family visited sandbag sites four times.

"We did our shutters, and we placed our furniture the way that we think is the appropriate way," she said.

LINK: Track Hurricane Irma with MyFoxHurricane.com

Doug Plank, former NFL coach and player, was heading to Arizona.

"Everybody is expecting the storm. They've gone through this before," he said. "There's an old saying. Ninety percent of anything is preparation."

For him, the images of the devastation from Hurricane Harvey motivated him to leave Florida.

"You always lean on your past memory," he said, "and with the hurricane that just happened in Houston, I was getting flashbacks."

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