After Devastating the Carribean, Hurricane Irma Turns Towards the U.S.

By Paul Riegler on 7 September 2017
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Miami, Florida before the storm

Miami, Florida before the storm

As Hurricane Irma – the most potent Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever – continues towards the United States, officials and residents in Florida were preparing for its wrath.

Officials on St. Martin said that 95% of the island was destroyed while nearly 70% of households in Puerto Rico were without power as of Thursday night. On Thursday at 9 p.m. EDT, the storm was heading for the Bahamas and the northern coast of Cuba, according to the National Hurricane Center.

In Florida, officials urged people in the storm’s predicted path to evacuate and those planning to remain scrambled to purchase survival essentials, including water, batteries, sandbags, and gasoline. Floridians waited in block-long lines at filling stations, given the shortages that arose following Hurricane Harvey.

Mandatory evacuation orders were given for all of Monroe County and for parts of Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Pinellas and other counties in the area.

“Every Florida family must prepare to evacuate regardless of the coast you live on,” said Governor Rick Scott.

The storm is forecast to continue through coastal and some inland areas in Georgia and South Carolina as it continues on its path of devastation.

Meanwhile, airlines and travelers are busy trying to get out of the way of the storm. In the past two days, airlines have added extra flights to help evacuate people from the impacted areas before the storm hits and cancelled flights starting Friday afternoon, offering travelers the opportunity to cancel or reschedule without incurring penalties.

“Since the safety of our team and customers are a top priority, we are taking the extraordinary step of closing our MIA hub as well as service from a few other Florida airports from Friday afternoon to Monday morning,” American Airlines said in a memo to employees.

Both Miami International and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airports said they would close when sustained winds reach 55 mph (88 km/h).

An additional storm, Jose, has already formed in the Atlantic and has strengthened into a Category 3 hurricane in the past 24 hours, according to the National Hurricane Center. It is now forecast to strike Antigua and Barbuda, which are already reeling from extensive flooding and wind damage from Irma.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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