As Hurricane Irma approaches Florida, many store shelves of water, canned food and other storm provisions are becoming scarce due to residents stocking up for the storm.
Hurricane Irma strengthened to a Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained wind speeds of 185 mph Tuesday morning. The National Hurricane Center reported it is traveling at about 14 mph, moving over the Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico on Wednesday, Sept. 6. The intensity of Irma could fluctuate as it moves over the mountainous regions of Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic.
The NHC estimates Irma could reach Florida around 8 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 10.
Though it is still too early to tell how big of an impact Irma will have on Florida, emergency operation centers in Volusia and Flagler County are advising people to gather supplies.
“What people need to do is get ready,” Volusia Emergency Management Director Jim Judge said.
How residents can prepare
If they haven’t done so already, Judge said people should stock up on water, food, batteries, first aid kits and make sure they have a working radio. Steve Garten, Public Safety Emergency Manager for Flagler County Emergency Services, said residents should plan to have three to five days worth of supplies in preparation for Irma. They should also make sure they have the same amount for any pets
in the household.
People should also review their disaster plans, or create one if they don’t have one yet.
“At this point in the game when a storm’s bearing down on us, we would say get out there and do the best you can to make the last minute preparations you need to,” Judge said.
“At this point in the game when a storm’s bearing down on us, we would say get out there and do the best you can to make the last minute preparations you need to."
Jim Judge, director for Volusia County Emergency Management
Garten compared Irma to Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which hit South Florida while it was a Category 5. He said Irma’s estimated winds of over 180 mph could be “beyond detrimental” to the area.
“After Hurricane Andrew came through, everything was gone,” Garten said. “Some houses were gone. I mean literally stop signs and road signs were gone. So just picture a land being barren and that’s what Category 5’s do.”
Both counties are still awaiting information to decide which zones will be notified for mandatory and voluntary evacuation for Hurricane Irma. Some of the deciding factors include wind speeds, storm surge and rainfall.
How the Gov. Scott is preparing
Gov. Rick Scott issued a state of emergency in response to the approach of Hurricane Irma, a category 5 hurricane as of Tuesday morning. A state of emergency allows government at both state and local level to authorize funding and evacuations as needed, as well as activates the state’s emergency operations plan.
“In Florida, we always prepare for the worst and hope for the best and while the exact path of Irma is not absolutely known at this time, we cannot afford to not be prepared,” said Scott in a released statement.
Scott has asked President Trump to declare a pre-landfall emergency in Florida in anticipation of Hurricane Irma’s impact on the state. This declaration would help gain federal assistance and provide funding for emergency protective measures. Trump signed the declaration Tuesday night.
In addition, Scott activated 100 members of the Florida Air and Army National Guard to prepare for Hurricane Irma. They will be station throughout the state and will communicate with Scott on what resources are needed for the storm. All 7,000 National Guard members in Florida will be active on Friday.