With winds up to 185 miles per hour and gusts up to a severe 225 mph, Hurricane Irma has been categorized as a “Superstorm” – the strongest storm in the Atlantic so far this year. Winds are being called “life threatening,” and the storm surge and rains are expected to be catastrophic.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Irma was “a potentially catastrophic category 5 hurricane.” The storm is picking up strength as it travels over warm waters and appears to be heading towards the Florida coastline.
Florida Governor Rich Scott has already declared a state of emergency for all 67 counties in the state. He said, “If you’re told to evacuate, get out quickly.” So far, 25,000 residents and tourists have been evacuated from the Florida Keys where a mandatory evacuation was ordered today, Wednesday.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said about 2,200 special needs residents have been evacuated, and the evacuations will continue until they’re complete.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie approved the deployment of 100 New Jersey Army National Guard soldiers to help in the evacuation in Florida, and are expected to arrive on as early as Friday to assist.
There will be emergency shelters open starting tomorrow, for those who may not make it out of the area in time, but officials are urging people to leave now.
It is important that those in the potential path of Irma not wait for reports about her possible future path. Now is not the time to play a waiting game and see what Mother Nature might or might not do. Now is the time to save lives by leaving – that way, once the all clear is given, those lives will able to come back.