- Courtesy NOAA National Weather Service National Hurricane Center/Handout
Gov. Rick Scott of Florida said on Friday morning that all 20 million of the state’s residents should be prepared to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irma.
“This storm is powerful and deadly,” Scott said in a briefing in Palm Beach. “Do not ignore evacuation orders.
“Remember, we can rebuild your home – we can’t rebuild your life,” he added. “All Floridians should be prepared to evacuate soon.”
Florida is gearing up for a direct hit from Irma, a Category 4 hurricane that’s packing winds of over 140 mph and has already steamrolled several Caribbean islands. Parts of South Florida are under hurricane and storm-surge warnings as of Friday morning, with surges of 5 to 10 feet expected.
The storm is expected to travel directly up the middle of Florida before curving inland toward Tennessee.
“This storm is wider than our entire state and is expected to cause major and life-threatening impacts from coast to coast,” Scott said. “Regardless of which coast you live on, be prepared to evacuate.”
Scott has ordered mandatory evacuations in Monroe County, the location of the popular Florida Keys, as well as much of Miami-Dade County and other low-lying and coastal counties in the state. The mandatory evacuation order extends to more than 1 million Floridians and could be one of the largest evacuations in the state’s history, according to Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
Irma is expected to make landfall early Sunday morning, and Scott has ordered 7,000 National Guard members to assist with rescue and relief efforts.
“Obviously, Hurricane Irma continues to be a threat that is going to devastate the United States,” Brock Long, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said on Friday.
This is a developing story. Find all of Business Insider’s latest Hurricane Irma coverage here.