Florida Gov. Rick Scott says Hurricane Irma is already shaping up to be a stronger storm than Hurricane Andrew, the most destructive tropical storm to ever hit the state.
Scott appeared on Good Morning America on Wednesday to issue a stern warning to his citizens – prepare for the worst and evacuate if you have to.
‘Let’s all remember, we can rebuild your home, but we can’t rebuild your life,’ Scott said.
Hurricane Irma set a record on Tuesday when it clocked sustained winds of 185 miles per hour – making it the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.
Scott said that Floridians should be prepared for a hurricane like they haven’t seen before.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott says Hurricane Irma is already shaping up to be a stronger storm than Hurricane Andrew, the most destructive tropical storm to ever hit the state.
This satellite image obtained from NASA’s GOES Project shows Hurricane Irma (C) at 7:45am ET on Wednesday
In this geocolor image captured by GOES-16 and released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows Hurricane Irma approaches Anguilla on Wednesday
The above radar photo shows Irma approaching Puerto Rico around 10:45 ET on Wednesday
Storm coming: The most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history made its first landfall in the islands of the northeast Caribbean early Wednesday, churning along a path pointing to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba before possibly heading for Florida over the weekend into early next week
Eduardo Soriano of Miami, waits in a line since dawn to purchase plywood sheets at a Home Depot store in North Miami, Florida on Wednesday
Luis Lorenzo (left) and Jairo Ruiz (right) purchase plywood at The Home Depot as they prepare for Hurricane Irma on Wednesday in Miami, Florida
Motorists wait in line to fill their vehicles with gas as they prepare for Hurricane Irma on Wednesday in Key Largo, Florida. The Florida Keys are currently under mandatory evacuation
‘We’ve got wind, we’ve got rain, and we’ve got storm surge. This is a massive storm.
Water could cover your house. We want everybody to cover their house.
This is bigger than Andrew, ‘ Scott said, referencing the 1992 storm that caused $26.5billion in damage to the state.
‘And it sure looks like it’s going to bare right down the middle of the state of Florida,’ Scott added.
Irma struck its first targets Tuesday night passing almost directly over the island of Barbuda in the eastern Caribbean.
The storm is almost certain to hit the United States by Sunday night, though it’s still unclear which direction it will turn north of Cuba.
Scott said it was important that every Floridian prepare for the storm, since its course is still uncertain.
‘I want every Floridian to be aggressive. We don’t know exactly where this is going to hit. It’s as likely to hit Fort Myers and Naples as it is to Miami,’ he said.
National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini says Hurricane Irma is so record-breaking strong it’s impossible to hype.
Uccellini said Wednesday he’s concerned about Florida up the east coast to North Carolina, starting with the Florida Keys.
He warns that ‘all the hazards associated with this storm’ are going to be dangerous.
Hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel of MIT calculates that Irma holds about 7 trillion watts – about twice the energy of all bombs used in World War II.
In preparation of Hurricane Irma, residents of Boca Raton line up for propane on Wednesday
Miami residents buy supplies to be prepared for Hurricane Irma in Miami, Florida on Wednesday
Miami residents shopping on Wednesday made sure to load their carts with bottled water and other supplies to last through the storm
Shoppers at one Miami grocery store filled their carts to the brim with food to last them through the storm on Wednesday
Service stations throughout the state are dealing with a never-ending line of cars waiting to fill up on gas before the storm. Above, one gas station in Miami on Wednesday
Customers wait in line for a gasoline truck delivery at a service station in Miami on Wednesday
Gas station employee Albert Fernandez covers a pump after running out of gas on Wednesday in Key Largo, Florida as the demand for gas has increased due to Hurricane Irma
Anthony Mirto fills tanks as he prepares for Hurricane Irma on Wednesday in Key Largo, Florida
Floridians seem to be taking hurricane prep seriously.
Stores throughout the state, which has been under a state of emergency since Monday, have already started running out of bottled water and other necessities
and gas stations are struggling to keep up with the never ending lines of cars.
Scott advised his citizens to stock up on what they need but not to go overboard, so that everyone can get the supplies necessary to wait out the storm.
‘I’m asking everybody as you get prepared: three days of water per person, three days of food. Take enough, but only take what you need.
Don’t take more, so we can make sure we take care of all our neighbors,’ he said.
Scott has also activated an additional 900 members of the Florida National Guard to prepare for Hurricane Irma.
Scott called up the additional guard members on Wednesday, a day after he had activated an initial 100 members.
During a stop in the Florida Keys, Scott said that he still plans to another 6,000 National Guard members report to duty on Friday.
Officials in the Florida Keys geared up to get tourists and residents out of Irma’s path, and the mayor of Miami-Dade County said people should be prepared to evacuate Miami Beach and most coastal areas.
Social media pictures show how the hurricane ripped through coastal locations in Antigua overnight with cars submerged in water
Hotels were flooded and cars submerged as floods hit coastal areas during hurricane-force winds on St Martin overnight
This was the scene of devastation on St Martin after fierce winds and flooding destroyed buildings and swamped roads
Trees came crashing down on the tops of houses and roads were left under several feet of water after the storm passed
President Trump tweeted about the situation on Wednesday, saying he had a team in place in Florida monitoring the hurricane
Mayor Carlos Gimenez said the voluntary evacuations could begin as soon as Wednesday evening.
He activated the emergency operation center and urged residents to have three days’ worth of food and water.
At a press conference Wednesday morning, Scott said that they are going to start the evacuations starting with the Keys, and move north depending on where the storm turns.
He also said that gas and more supplies are on the way, after stores and service stations across the state started reporting shortages.
Several big box stores have activated emergency response protocols, sending truck loads of hurricane preparation items to areas with the greatest need.
Walmart said it had activated their Emergency Operations Center for Hurricane Irma to ‘get those shelves stocked as soon as possible,’ Ragan Dickens, director of national media relations told the Miami Herald.
‘This is an all-hands-on-deck operation,’ Dickens said.
About 800 truckloads of supples including water, flashlights, batteries, ready-to-eat foods and other supplies were dispatched from Walmart headquarters in Arkansas to Florida on Tuesday.
Home Depot’s Rapid Response Team send truckloads of supplies from Atlanta to Florida Tuesday night. ‘We will continue to do so all week.
Many of those trucks come from a network of distribution centers where we’ve pre-staged loads of hurricane supplies ahead of the hurricane season, including our hurricane distribution center in Lakeland,’ Matt Harrigan said.
People put up shutters as they prepare the Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre for Hurricane Irma on Wednesday in Miami, Florida
Matt Scally takes letters off the marquee at the Actor’s Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre in Miami, Florida on Wednesday
Gilberto Mojena puts up shutters as he prepares his house for Hurricane Irma on Wednesday in Miami, Florida
Miami residents buying wat and supplies to be prepared for Hurricane Irma on Wednesday
Customers line up with large carts to buy plywood from a Home Depot in Miami, Florida on Wednesday
Other customers bought wet vacs, possibly yo deal with any flooding, and gas canisters to hold fuel that will on doubt be needed to get generators up and running
A worker installs shutter panels to protect the windows of the ‘Versailles’ restaurant as preparations for the advancing Hurricane Irma in Miami, Florida on Wednesday
Patrick Sutton, the assistant manager of the Altamonte Springs Home Deport, told Click Orlando that the store ran out of generators on Monday and water and flashlights by Tuesday afternoon.
‘I think everyone is more aware of what’s going on because of what happened with Harvey in Texas,’ he said.
‘I was here in 2004 for Charley and it was not taken so seriously back then.
Now, everybody is taking it more seriously, which allows them to get the supplies they need and gives us time to get the supplies soon enough.’
A Target spokesman said Florida stores would be getting additional supplies ahead of the storm, expected to hit Florida as early as Sunday.
‘We’re providing stores with additional supplies that we know our guests need to stock up, including water, batteries, flashlights, toiletries, camping supplies, cleaning supplies and nonperishable food,’Target spokeswoman Jenna Reck said.
‘We’ll continue to push as many products to our stores as we safely can before the hurricane hits.’
On Wednesday, lines stretched at grocery stores, gas stations and home improvement stores as Floridians stocked up for the storm and readied their houses to face the gale-force winds.
Lines stretched around 50 cars deep at one gas station in Cooper City, which is southwest of Fort Lauderdale, by 5:30am Wednesday.
The station had been out of fuel on Tuesday night, but received an overnight delivery.
Workers at a station in Doral, near Miami, put yellow caution tape around pumps Wednesday morning after running out of gasoline.
Local news outlets reported both long lines and stations that had no gas across South Florida.
The Hurricane Center in Miami said hurricane-force winds extended 50 miles from Irma’s center and tropical storm-force winds extended 175 miles.
President Donald Trump declared emergencies in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and authorities in the Bahamas said they would evacuate six southern islands.
Trump says his administration is closely watching Hurricane Irma.
On Twitter Wednesday morning, Trump says his ‘team, which has done, and is doing, such a good job in Texas, is already in Florida.’ He adds: ‘No rest for the weary!’
In a subsequent statement on Twitter, Trump says ‘Hurricane looks like largest ever recorded in the Atlantic!’
Ahead of a meeting with Congressional leaders Wednesday, Trump said the group had a lot to discuss, including what ‘seems to be record-breaking hurricane heading right toward Florida and Puerto Rico and other places.’
Trump says ‘we’ll see what happens.’ He adds: ‘it looks like it could be something that could be not good, believe me not good.’
The president’s Homeland Security advisor also said Wednesday that the government can handle Hurricane Irma relief because the life-saving phase for Hurricane Harvey is over
and has entered a longer term phase focused on individuals.
Tom Bossert said the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas are not being forgotten as Irma hits the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico and possibly Florida later this week.
He says those in the path of the newest storm should heed evacuation orders.
For Harvey, he says the government is working on longer-term assistance, such as Small Business Administration loans, unemployment wages and reconstruction.
San Juan, Puerto Rico is already feeling strong gusts of wind as Irma approaches
Radar from 9:30am shows Hurricane Irma approaching the east coast of Puerto Rico. Hurricane Jose is also seen forming in the central Atlantic
As of 11am Wednesday morning, Irma was inching closer to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico
Irma is expected to track north towards Florida for the rest of this week, perhaps making landfall in south Florida on Sunday
It’s still unclear which direction Irma will turn as it approaches Florida. But most models show it hitting at least somepart of the state
Irma is likely to bring extreme weather to much of the southeastern U.S. this weekend and early next week
Hurricane Irma roared into the Caribbean with record-setting force early Wednesday, shaking homes and flooding buildings on a chain of small islands along a path to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and eventually south Florida.
Irma, which was the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded north of the Caribbean and east of the Gulf of Mexico, passed almost directly over the island of Barbuda, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.
France sent emergency food and water rations to the French islands of Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy, where Irma ripped off roofs and knocked out all electricity.
The regional authority for Guadeloupe and neighboring islands said the fire station in Saint Barthelemy was flooded by more than 3 feet (1 meter) of water and no rescue vehicles could move. The government headquarters on Saint Martin was partially destroyed.
There were no immediate reports of casualties but the minister for overseas territories, Annick Girardin, said ‘We have a lot to fear for a certain number of our compatriots who unfortunately didn’t want to listen to the protection measures and go to more secure sites … We’re preparing for the worst.’
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said the twin-island nation appears to have weathered its brush with Hurricane Irma with no deaths, though he noted that the government had only done a preliminary assessment of Barbuda. There were widespread reports of property damage but he says the public and government had prepared well for the storm.
He says that preliminary reports also indicate there are no deaths in Barbuda despite widespread reports of damaged buildings and downed trees. He plans to visit as soon as possible.
The prime minister says the airport will reopen at 2pm.
‘We in Antigua have weathered the most powerful hurricane ever to storm its way through the Caribbean,’ the prime minister said. ‘And we have done so with stunning results.’
A Dutch navy spokeswoman says that marines who flew to three islands hammered by Hurricane Irma have seen a lot of damage, but have no immediate reports of casualties.
The Category 5 storm made a direct hit Wednesday on the island where the Dutch territory of St. Maarten is located, though the scope of damage isn’t yet clear. Some 100 Dutch marines flew to the islands on Monday to prepare for the hurricane.
Navy spokeswoman Karen Loos says that some troops were able to send images of destruction from St. Maarten and another island, St. Eustatius.
Loos says, ‘You do see there is a lot of damage. Trees, houses, roofs that are blown out. A lot of water, high water.’
She says the extent of the damage elsewhere on the island is not yet clear.
The first of two Dutch naval vessels heading for the islands is expected to arrive at 8 p.m. local time in St. Maarten.
The center of the storm was about 15 miles west of St. Martin and Anguilla about 8 a.m. Wednesday, the hurricane center said. It was heading west-northwest at 16 mph.
As the eye of Hurricane Irma passed over Barbuda around 2 a.m., phone lines went down under heavy rain and howling winds that sent debris flying as people huddled in their homes or government shelters.
The storm ripped the roof off the island’s police station, forcing officers to seek refuge in the fire station and at the community center that served as an official shelter. The Category 5 storm also knocked out communication between islands.
Several counties in Florida are already putting out evacuation maps, showing which areas will need to be evacuated depending on storm surge levels. Above, an evacuation map for Miami-Dade County
The evacuation area is much smaller for Broward County, Florida, which includes the city of Fort Lauderdale
The above map shows shelters ready to take evacuees in Palm Beach, Florida when the storm hits
A Florida pet store released this graphic, explaining what pet owners need to do in the event of an hurricane
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Irma’s winds would fluctuate but the storm would likely remain at Category 4 or 5 strength for the next day or two.
The most dangerous winds, usually nearest to the eye, were forecast to pass near the northern Virgin Islands and near or just north of Puerto Rico on Wednesday.
Warm water is fuel for hurricanes and Irma was moving over water that was 1.8 degrees warmer than normal.
The 79 degree water that hurricanes need went about 250 feet deep, said Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the private forecasting service Weather Underground.
Four other storms have had winds as strong in the overall Atlantic region, but they were in the Caribbean Sea or the Gulf of Mexico, which usually have warmer waters.
Hurricane Allen hit 190 mph in 1980, while 2005’s Wilma, 1988’s Gilbert and a 1935 great Florida Keys storm all had 185 mph winds.
The northern Leeward Islands were expected to see normal tide levels rise by as much as 11 feet, while the Turks and Caicos Islands and southeastern Bahamas could see surge of 20 feet and higher waves later in the week, forecasters said.
Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said his government was evacuating six islands in the south because authorities would not be able to help anyone caught in the ‘potentially catastrophic’ wind, flooding and storm surge.
People there would be flown to Nassau in what he called the largest storm evacuation in the country’s history.
Vehicles line up to get fuel at a Tom Thumb gas station in Shalimar, Florida on Tuesday ahead of a possible strike by Hurricane Irma
Motorists head north on US Route 1 as Hurricane Irma moves its path in the northeast Caribbean on Tuesday in Key Largo, Florida. The Florida Keys are currently under a mandatory evacuation
An employee restocks bottled water on bare shelves as customers look on at a Publix grocery store on Tuesday in Surfside, Florida
Residents purchase water at BJ Wholesale in preparation for Hurricane Irma on Tuesday in Miami, Florida
Many stores are already reporting water shortages across the state, like this Costco in North Miami, Florida on Tuesday
‘The price you may pay for not evacuating is your life or serious physical harm,’ Minnis said.
The U.S. National Weather Service said Puerto Rico had not seen a hurricane of Irma’s magnitude since Hurricane San Felipe in 1928, which killed a total of 2,748 people in Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico and Florida.
‘The dangerousness of this event is like nothing we’ve ever seen,’ Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said. ‘A lot of infrastructure won’t be able to withstand this kind of force.’
The eye of the storm was expected to rip westward on a path taking it a little north of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba.
The northern parts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti could see 10 inches of rain, with as much as 20 inches in the southeast Bahamas and Turks and Caicos.
Also Wednesday morning, a new tropical storm formed in the Gulf of Mexico off Mexico’s coast.
Tropical Storm Katia had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph with some strengthening forecast over the next two days. But the hurricane center said Katia was expected to stay offshore through Friday morning.
And another tropical storm farther east in the Atlantic was expected to become a hurricane by Wednesday night.
Tropical Storm Jose’s maximum sustained winds had increased to near 60 mph. The storm was centered about 1,255 miles east of the Lesser Antilles and was moving west near 13 mph.
Carla Perroni Aguilera of Miami Beach, Florida, holds a cart as her husband Ronald Aguilera and her father Joe Perroni load sheets of plywood at The Home Depot store in North Miami, Florida on Wednesday
Floridians have been waiting in long lines to fill up on gas before the storm hits. Above, a line for gas at a Costco in North Miami, Florida on tuesday
Kelby Schweickerrt, of Destin, Florida, grabs some gallon jugs of drinking water from the shelves at a Target store on Tuesday
Customers purchase groceries at a local supermarket as they prepare for Hurricane Irma on Tuesday, in Hialeah, Florida
People purchase plywood at The Home Depot as they prepare for Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017 in Miami, Florida
It’s still too early to know where the direct impact of the hurricane will take place but the state of Florida is in the area of possible landfall. Above, people lining up to buy plywood for Hurricane Irma in Miami on Wednesday
Beatriz Bustamante and her dog Simon wait as Qawrence Symonette secures sheets of plywood on her car at The Home Depot store in North Miami, Florida on Wednesday