Hurricane Irma has already begun dealing damage to American shores, with large portions of Miami now underwater.
Waves and storm surge worked together to overtake the city’s seawalls, even as 120 mile per hour winds tore shingles from buildings, toppled small structures, and even snapped the long arm of a heavy construction crane.
Nearly 36 million people in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina are living under active hurricane warnings and watches.
Those living in the Florida Keys have essentially been told by state government officials that they’re on their own until the storm clears.
Florida Governor Rick Scott has been fastidious in warning residents to heed hurricane evacuation advice, echoing comments that help wouldn’t come to any caught amidst Irma’s fury until the winds and rain subsided.
“We’ve never seen anything like this before,” Scott said to CNN on Saturday, speaking of the storm’s sheer power and destructive capability.
The same news network reported 90 mile per hour gusts of wind in Miami-Dade County, which begot power outages, flooding, and infrastructure damage. Nearly a million customers in the Miami area are without electricity, with that number expected to rise as Irma continues its course northward.
Scott signed orders encouraging and, in some cases, ordering the evacuation of tens of thousands of vulnerable people from Miami-Dade and Broward counties, both of which are coastal and at risk by Irma.
“If you have been evacuated, you need to leave now,” Scott said on Saturday, one day before the storm was expected to make landfall.
“Do not wait. Evacuate,” he said. “Not tonight, not in an hour. You need to go right now.”
He urged residents in Southwest Florida to leave home by noon. If they weren’t able to leave by then, for whatever reason, the governor said, “Do not get on the road.”
Now, as Irma begins its devastation of the Florida Keys and the peninsular coasts, precautions are being put into place to protect residents from getting injured by the strong winds and storm surge.
In Miami-Dade County, a curfew has been placed, restricting anyone from being outside between 7pm Sunday and 7am Monday.
CNN reported that Georgia Governor Nathan Deal acted on information coming out of Florida to expand a state of emergency to cover all of Georgia’s 159 counties. The state government will be closed for part of next week, due to fears of heavy rainfall, flooding, and damaging winds.