Millions in Florida evacuate as Hurricane Irma pounds Cuba

Syndicated from Reuters

HAVANA (Reuters) – Millions of residents in Florida were ordered to evacuate as Hurricane Irma roared toward the state on Friday after lashing Cuba, killing 21 people in the eastern Caribbean and leaving catastrophic destruction in its wake.

Irma, one of the most powerful Atlantic storms in a century, was expected to hit Florida on Sunday morning, bringing massive damage from wind and flooding to the fourth-largest state by population.

A historic evacuation, including from areas around Miami, has been made more difficult by clogged highways, gasoline shortages and the challenge of moving older people in the top retirement destination.

The storm could regain strength and hit the Florida Keys as a Category 5 hurricane, the most powerful designation by the National Hurricane Center, with sustained winds of 160 miles per hour (258 km per hour).

As of tonight 11:43 pm EST, Hurricane Irma has strengthened back to a Category 5 according to CNN and the National Weather Service. 

The United States has been hit by only three Category 5 storms since 1851, and Irma is far larger than the last one in 1992, Hurricane Andrew, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“We are running out of time. If you are in an evacuation zone, you need to go now. This is a catastrophic storm like our state has never seen,” Governor Rick Scott told reporters, adding the effects would be felt from coast to coast in the state.

A total of 5.6 million people, or 25 percent of the state’s population, were ordered to evacuate Florida, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

U.S. President Donald Trump said in a videotaped statement that Irma was “a storm of absolutely historic destructive potential” and called on people to heed recommendations from government officials and law enforcement. In Palm Beach, Trump’s water-front Mar-a-Lago estate was ordered evacuated.

Read more…Reuters

Get more Hurricane warning updates live on Twitter by following these accounts:

Irma just hit a category 5 as it hits Cuba. Those who live in southern Florida or the Florida keys, leave however you can, now!

 To everyone in the path of irma don’t forget your pets. Do not leave them behind, or chained up to die. God is watching. hurricaneirma2017 pic.twitter.com/KRRbkywEtg

Cuba is getting absolutely CLOBBERED by Category 5 Irma. Hope everyone there was properly prepared and is safe. It’s really bad. pic.twitter.com/0yjejhVvQL

***THIS IS AS REAL AS IT GETS***

***NOWHERE IN THE FLORIDA KEYS WILL BE SAFE***

***YOU STILL HAVE TIME TO EVACUATE***

Please RT. Irma http://pic.twitter.com/VWLMEDWoUs

Here are the latest estimates of when tropical-storm-force winds could arrive & are most likely to begin for Irma. http://hurricanes.gov pic.twitter.com/vfKN8nWDFi

If you’re directed to evacuate due to Irma and need a safe place to go, you can find a list of shelters in our app: https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app pic.twitter.com/Br6CQhARRA

Irma has officially made landfall in Cuba as a Cat. 5 – 1st Cat. 5 hurricane to make landfall in Cuba since 1924.
pic.twitter.com/wqBrjovrRh

“Be safe, daddy. I love you.” Irma bbpdpride pic.twitter.com/OsOjzwuoY1

WATCH: Simulation of Miami flooding if Hurricane Irma is a direct hit. pic.twitter.com/R9seEnAQQN

Truly staggering image: Hurricanes Katia making landfall in Mexico, Irma in Cuba as Jose builds in Caribbean. pic.twitter.com/0LpKNS2WSX

Hurricane Irma back to Category 5 as aircraft recon and satellite imagery seemingly agree that storm ramped up.

Here is the latest forecast track on Irma pic.twitter.com/zdJC9pqTsT

11 PM Friday 09/08: Hurricane Irma remains a severe and extremely dangerous threat for all of South Florida. flwx pic.twitter.com/0I5JkuBnH0

Source Follow the hashtag Irma on Twitter for more updates

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