As if Hurricane Harvey wasn’t enough to remind people of how vulnerable they are to nature’s fury, a much stronger storm is now taking aim on the U.S. coastline. Hurricane Irma, now a category 5 with wind gusts up to 220 mph, is already the strongest Caribbean storm ever recorded. The people of Florida are on edge, waiting for Irma.
Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for Miami and the Florida Keys, with more expected as the storm track moves Irma closer to land.
Officials in the Florida Keys are set to begin mandatory evacuations for visitors on Wednesday morning ahead of rapidly approaching Hurricane Irma. The storm, which has undergone rapid intensification in the past several days is now the strongest Atlantic hurricane in the last 10 years, a dangerous Category 5, which could have severe impacts on Caribbean island nations and possibly the United States. States of emergency have been declared in Florida and Puerto Rico, and residents across the region are trying to stock up on food, water and other essentials.
In Florida, stocking up on hurricane supplies is proving to be tough. Stores throughout the state are already out of water, and low on canned foods. At home improvement stores, plywood is being snapped up by residents hoping to save their homes from airborne debris.
For Floridians who have been through hurricanes in the past, an approaching storm doesn’t generally spark panic. But with so many people reeling from the images of Harvey’s catastrophic flooding in Houston, Texas, there are definitely more Floridians paying attention.
ABC affiliate 3WEARTV is reporting shortages as far away as the Panhandle:
Hurricane essentials are flying off the shelves at stores like Walmart and Lowe’s. People believe it’s better to be safe than sorry. Lowe’s store manager Thomas Kopriva said people are preparing early.”I think they’ve seen what’s going on in Texas and don’t want to be caught off guard,” Kopriva said.
The last time a category 5 hurricane hit Florida, it was Andrew in 1992. When Andrew was done with South Florida, there were more than three dozen dead, 1.3 million without power, and $26 billion in property damage. There’s no counting the emotional scars Andrew inflicted on the survivors.
If you’re in the path of Hurricane Irma, you can find a list of items you’ll need here. There’s still time to stock up if supplies are available.
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