The southeast coast of the United States is preparing for a potentially unprecedented disaster in the form of Hurricane Irma.
Currently making its way over the Caribbean, category five Hurricane Irma could be making a course for Florida.
The historically strong storm has already ravaged several islands in the French Caribbean, with the governor of Barbuda describing the resultant rubble as overwhelmingly widespread.
An estimated 95% of structures in Barbuda have been either compromised or bowled over. Hospitals, government buildings, and private residences were swept away by a combination of powerful storm surges and record-setting winds.
The hurricane has maintained wind speeds of up to and over 175 miles per hour for much of the past 24 hours. Only one other tropical system in recent history has surpassed Irma’s maximum wind speeds of 185 miles per hour.
The storm is expected to begin hitting Haiti and Dominican Republic in the coming days.
A lack of reliable infrastructure and organized state response ability elevates the risk for Haitians, who have only just begun to recover from a devastating earthquake in 2010.
In Puerto Rico, an American territory, one million customers are without electricity as the storm bears down upon United States soil.
As Irma moves toward mainland America, officials have already begun anticipating a catastrophe.
President Donald Trump preemptively declared a state of emergency for the entire state of South Carolina. The state governor, Henry McMaster, announced that mandatory evacuations would begin in coastal and low-lying regions Saturday night.
The Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, ordered mandatory evacuations in the lower-lying parts of the densely-populated Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
Twelve storm shelters have since opened in Broward County, as meteorological predictions continue to suggest that Miami and Fort Lauderdale are directly in Irma’s path.
To make matters worse, a Category 3 hurricane – named ‘Jose’ – could follow right on Irma’s heels.
The storm is expected to take roughly the same trajectory, barreling through Barbuda before carrying on to the French Caribbean and Southeast.
Weary Floridians have spent the last several days stocking up on canned foods and medical supplies, preparing to seek refuge from Irma farther inland or in what they hope is the safety of their own house.