“US President Donald Trump approved a federal emergency declaration for the state ahead of the storm,” said the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The island of Barbuda was the first to face the ire of the catastrophic superstorm. The National Hurricane Center in Miami said, “Irma is moving towards the west with category 5 winds and rains. Irma was “a potentially catastrophic category 5 hurricane,” already the strongest in its records outside the Caribbean Sea or Gulf of Mexico.”
Irma, which is currently racing at 185 mph winds poses potential threat to Florida and the U.S. East Coast. The storm is expected to hit the coastal areas by Friday. Officials and residents in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands made preparations were seen making last-minute preparations, while authorities in the Bahamas are in the process of evacuating six southern islands.
“Irma will just add to the woes of the residents who are still reeling from the havoc of the hurricane Harvey, which caused devastation and flooding in the states of Texas and Louisiana, and left at least 66 people dead,” officials said.
The Miami-based hurricane center said, “A category 5 hurricane is known to have catastrophic outcomes. The storm can uproot trees, disband power lines, leave significant property damage, and bring uninhabitable conditions.”
Officials said, “The hurricane is so strong that it appeared on seismometers, which are designed to measure earthquakes, and has the potential for coastal storm surges of up to 20 feet (six meters) above normal tide levels.
The US State Department has warned its citizens to reconsider their travel plans to Cuba, Haiti, or the Dominican Republic due to the impact of Hurricane Irma.
“There is an increasing chance of seeing some impacts from Irma in the Florida Peninsula and Florida Keys later this week. Rough surf and dangerous marine conditions will begin to affect the southeastern U.S. coast by later this week,” the center said.
Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency across 67 countries in Florida. He said in a tweet, “All Floridians to remain vigilant and stay alert to local weather and news”.
The Puerto Rican Government has stepped forward to put a price freeze on food, water, medicines, power generators, batteries, and some basic necessities.
Governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rossello allocated $15 million emergency fund, deployed 100 members of the Florida National Guard across the state, and ordered additional 7,000 National Guard members to report for duty on Friday, when the storm could be approaching the area.
British holidaymakers in the Caribbean and Florida were urged to comply with the evacuation orders. British Airways sent an empty aircraft to bring back customers early, which returned with a full flight of 326 passengers in the UK on Tuesday evening.