‘I am scared’ : Miami Beach residents brace for Irma.
Florida officials urged residents in flood-prone coastal communities to get out while they can, ordering evacuations in the face of oncoming Hurricane Irma, which could make landfall Sunday and inflict massive destruction not seen in the state since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Hurricanes have lashed South Florida many times, but officials here at the National Hurricane Center said this is shaping up as a once-in-a-generation storm. Forecasters adjusted their advisory late Thursday, projecting Irma to hit the tip of the peninsula, slamming the population centers of South Florida before grinding northward.
“This storm has the potential to catastrophically devastate our state,” Gov. Rick Scott (R) said in a late-day news briefing. Earlier, he implored people to evacuate. “If you live in any evacuation zones and you’re still at home, leave.”
The state’s highways were jammed, gas was scarce, airports were packed and mandatory evacuations began to roll out as the first official hurricane watches were issued for the region. Irma, which has been ravaging the Caribbean islands as it sweeps across the Atlantic, is expected to hit the Florida peninsula with massive storm surges and crippling winds that could affect nearly every metropolitan area in South Florida.
The hurricane center said Thursday afternoon that should Irma’s eye move through the center of the state, extreme winds and heavy rains could strafe an area that has millions of residents, from Miami in the east to Naples on the Gulf Coast. Because the eastern side of the storm is the most powerful, numerous cities along the east coast could face extreme conditions.