Thousands from South Florida heading to, through Gainesville to escape Hurricane Irma

Congested traffic on I-75 northbound near Gainesville. 

As Hurricane Irma inches toward South Florida, thousands of people are heading north to escape the Category 5 storm's path.

Interstate 75, one of the two major north-south corridors in the state, is already seeing heavy congestion northbound, as are the hundreds of gas stations on the way.

Officials say many are stopping in Orlando, but the impact has been visible here as well. Traffic times from Marion County to Alachua County were about double Thursday morning than what they normally are and traffic is only expected to get worse as the hurricane approaches landfall this weekend. The governor has already suspended tolls on state toll roads to make the trek easier.

Gas stations are already seeing temporary outages and bottled water has become scarce. So far, Alachua County plans to open three shelters on Friday, one that is pet-friendly, one for people with special needs and another for the general population.

"The state has not asked us to be a host city but we do not turn anyone away from the shelters," Alachua County spokesman Mark Sexton told CBS 4 this morning.

CBS 4 Gainesville will be following this story closely today. Check back here for updates and make sure to watch CBS 4 tonight at 6 and 11 for the latest news and weather updates.

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