Hurricane Irma has been downgraded to an “extremely dangerous” category 4 storm. (Image: NOAA) Irma is still packing 155 mph winds and has been credited with at least 10 deaths as she tore through several northeastern Caribbean islands yesterday and early this morning.
The Atlantic “hurricane of the century” is now poised to directly impact South Florida, namely, the greater Miami region. Mandatory evacuations in counties along both coasts of the Florida peninsula are underway, leaving highways such as I-95 North and the Northbound Florida Turnpike filled beyond travelling capacity with the mass exodus.
An estimated 7,000,000 individuals in Miami-Dade-Broward Counties and beyond have been asked to evacuate. As many as a million more are under voluntary evacuation. Even more are taking no risk and electing to leave on their own. Governor Rick Scott made no pleasantries when it came to stating his recommendations on Hurricane Irma “We can rebuild your house, but we can’t rebuild your life,” he said during more than one address. The governor urged every Florida residents to take the storm seriously and enact their emergency plan early.
Gas stations throughout south Florida and well into central and coastal Florida have seen lines of drivers waiting for hours, and stations with no gas at all. The FHP and law enforcement have been working to escort gas shipments to stations and get water delivered to barren grocery store shelves. Sand bag stations have popped-up along the sunshine state, with residents making one last effort to secure their property from Irma’s unfathomable projected storm surge.
Hospitals in the Florida Keys have been evacuated, with promises from the White House that they will be allowed every possible measure to aid in getting them back up and running once Irma has passed.
Animal-friendly shelters and pet daycare centers have stepped forward to help residents who need to stay with their pets, or can not take their animals, but want to keep them safe during the storm.
Gov. Scott solemnly warned citizens who do not heed the evacuations that once the storm hits, authorities can not come to the rescue. “This storm has the potential to catastrophically devastate our state and you have to take this seriously,”…”This is not a storm you can sit and wait through,” he said.