The largest evacuation in US history is underway as more than 5.6million people have been ordered to leave Florida before Category 5 Hurricane Irma strikes the Sunshine State.
The state’s Gov. Rick Scott urged people who had not left yet to leave as soon as possible on Friday. He warned those who plan to stay, that they may have to ride out the dangerous storm at their own risk.
He explained that the biggest concern with the powerful hurricane is the predicted storm surge that will come along with the lashing winds and heavy rains.
Andrew Sussman, the state’s hurricane program manager, said Friday the total of those urged to flee Florida includes people throughout the southern half of the state as well as those living in inland Florida in substandard housing.
Florida is the nation’s third-largest state with nearly 21million people according to the U.S. Census.
Meteorologists expect the powerful hurricane to hit the Sunshine State on Sunday. As of 2am ET Saturday, the hurricane is currently about 275 miles from Miami, with wind speeds of 160mph. The outer bands of the hurricane reached the U.S. late Friday night with south Florida and the Keys experiencing increased rain and wind speeds.
Hurricane Irma made landfall in Camaguey archipelago, just off the northern coast of Cuba, around 11.10pm ET on Friday. This is the first Category 5 storm to hit the island since 1924.