Kiwis in the path of Hurricane Irma face major dilemma

Those in the path of Hurricane Irma face a dilemma - leave home to sit in a major traffic jam and risk running out of petrol on the motoroway, or stay put and risk injury. 

Kiwis living in the Caribbean and the US city of Miami are facing that very decision.

It's a brief lull between hurricanes in The Dominican Republic, and some dare to pick their way through what is left of their homes - but others are still boarded up inside. 

This includes New Zealander Joanna Sun, who has been on lockdown at the orphanage where she works, since Hurricane Irma hit. 

"It was very overwhelming and quite frankly quite scary to begin with, because I've never had to experience anything like this," she said. "But I couldn't imagine what it's like for the kids as well."

In parts of Florida, people are being forced to evacuate. Thousands of cars are on the road, bringing reports of thirteen-hour traffic jams and long queues at petrol stations. 

Residents in other areas now have to decide whether they're safer to stay or leave - including Ian Bisset of Lower Hutt, who now lives in Port Charlotte. 

"We have animals to take of as well," begins Mr Bisset. "I've heard a lot of stories about people running out of gas on the highway, and then there's accomodation, and of course the longer this goes on, the further north you have to push to find somewhere to stay."

Mr Bisset had only just moved to Port Charlotte when Hurricane Charley hit in 2004. 

"It's a scary thing because Florida is really flat and so this thing could just plough right through, and when Charley hit us it basically took every roofing tile off our house."

Miami Beach is being heaped into bags to protect their homes and now wait in refuge centres - like Melanie Peapell of Taupo, who boarded up her Miami home and went to the local church. 

"I'm feeling well prepared but I'm also very nervous and anxious about things having not been through one before and seeing what's happened in the islands." she said. 

They can only hope Irma changes course before Sunday - but currently Miami is in line for a direct hit by the monster storm.