February 24 2018

'Ghost Town': South Beach Totally Deserted as Hurricane Irma Moves Closer

February 24 2018, 05:52 | Van Peters

For Hurricane Irma evacuees, a guide to waiting out the storm in Atlanta

Hurricane Irma: What's Happened and What's Next

Hurricane Irma was strengthening ahead of an all-but-certain collision with southern Florida after devastating the Caribbean islands and threatening to become the most expensive storm in USA history. This forecast prompted additional evacuations in this region, which had only been expecting about half this amount of storm surge based on previous forecasts that had the center of the storm moving well east of the area.

Two other major storms have developed in the Caribbean, Hurricane Jose and Hurricane Katia. He implored people living in evacuation zones to leave their homes, telling people on in the southwest part of the state to leave their homes by noon for a shelter or elsewhere.

It is not likely to make landfall on U.S. soil until the early hours of Monday when meteorologists now predict it will hit Tampa as a Category 3 storm.

Wind speeds are expected to steadily increase throughout the day on Saturday, and the storm's center is forecast to arrive in the Keys on Sunday morning, then travel up the west coast of the peninsula.

Florida is gearing up for a direct hit from Irma, a Category 4 hurricane that's packing winds of over 140 miles per hour and has already steamrolled several Caribbean islands. CoreLogic said 8.5 million properties in Florida may be damaged by Irma's winds.

Scott said 25,000 people in Florida have already lost electricity as Irma's outer bands have begun hitting the southern part of the state. "Nowhere in the Florida Keys will be safe!"

About 25,000 people are now without electricity, energy provider Florida Power and Light reported. Myers, and along or just off the west coast from there, puts in play highly vulnerable, low-lying areas that are especially prone to storm surge flooding.

President Trump has warned that a hurricane heading towards Florida has "absolutely historic destructive potential".

The toll could rise because rescue teams had yet to get a complete look at the damage. "If you have been ordered to evacuate, leave now-not tonight, not in an hour, now", Florida governor Rick Scott said Friday night. "Get off the road".

"You will not survive all this storm surge", Gov. Scott said Saturday. More than 50,000 Floridians have taken shelter already, he said, adding that "there's still room for more".

Some people are being turned away as high schools and other public spaces reach capacity.

Cities across south Florida issued curfews starting Saturday evening, including Miami Beach, Miami and all of Broward County, home to the city of Fort Lauderdale.

Media captionWATCH: Hurricane Hunters fly over eye of storm to help forecasters What do we know about the situation in Cuba?

Power outages are predicted across the Panhandle area and the entire state, the National Weather Service station in Tallahassee tweeted. Waves as high as 9 metres were also reported, as per The Guardian.

Most of these courageous firefighters have their own families to worry about too.

So far, at least 22 people have been reported dead in the hardest-hit areas of the Caribbean.

"It's my island", said Phillip, 39, who only gave his first name.

Barbuda: The small island is said to be "barely habitable", with 95% of the buildings damaged. "Barbuda right now is literally a rubble", PM Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda was quoted as saying by CNN.

Frantic Americans were calling home to relatives to try to get them off the island ahead of Hurricane Jose.

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