Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a statewide state of emergency in Florida as Hurricane Irma strengthened to a Category 4 storm with the potential to impact millions of Floridians.
The order affects all 67 counties in Florida. Although the storm would only reach Florida on Sept. 10, the governor declared the state of emergency early to give local, state, and federal agencies ample time to prepare.
In its current state, Irma would be the biggest storm to hit Florida since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, according to the Miami Herald.
“Hurricane Irma is a major life-threatening storm and Florida must be prepared,” Scott said in a statement.
Scott was briefed by the Florida division of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the latest forecasts place Florida in Irma’s path.
“Today, given these forecasts and the intensity of the storm, I have declared a state of emergency for every county in Florida,” Scott said.
“In Florida, we always prepare for the worst and hope for the best and while the exact path of Irma is not absolutely known at this time, we cannot afford to not be prepared,” Scott added.
The governor encouraged Florida state residents to make a plan for their families and businesses by visiting FloridaDisaster.org.
The latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center predicts that winds from Irma will begin to reach Florida at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9.
If the storm stays on its current path, it will hit Florida on Sept. 10 with devastating winds reaching 155 miles per hour, according to a model developed by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and mapped by Ventusky.com.
That would make it a Category 4 storm, the same as Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Texas with historic floods. If Irma reaches Florida as forecast, it would become a crushing one-two punch given that flooding from Harvey is not expected to recede for two more weeks.
A 5 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center placed the storm 490 miles from the Leeward Islands. The hurricane is moving toward the islands at 13 mph with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph.
The National Hurricane Center issued hurricane warnings for Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, and Sint Maarten, and Saint Barthelemy.
Reports of Florida residents stocking up on essential goods surfaced on Sunday.
Florida residents have been encouraged to go get supplies by the middle of the week in case the hurricane hits Florida, CBS12 in South Florida reported.
Jacob Tibbs, a Home Depot manager in Palm Beach County, noted, “Shoppers are already coming into the hardware store, picking up hurricane items: from generators to water,” said CBS12.
He recommended that people get basic supplies such as canned goods, water, flashlights, and batteries.
If people wait until the last minute, they might not be able to buy basic supplies in time if stores run out.
According to local news website TCPalm.com, residents in Vero Beach and the rest of Florida’s Treasure Coast were seen grabbing hurricane supplies.
A journalist with TCPalm also saw that “several store customers wheeled by with shopping carts containing 5-gallon gasoline cans,” the report stated, adding that another man was on the “phone, trying to get help taking home a large Storm Responder electrical generator he purchased at Lowe’s home improvement store on Sunday.”
“You can’t take a chance,” David Yates, a 42-year-old automotive technician, told the website as he was buying supplies, including propane canisters, chain saw supplies, and mosquito repellent.
“I can’t do this last minute,” Evon Hardin, a shopper, told the website as she removed packs of batteries.
According to TCPalm, here are supplies one might need:
- Gas for the car or generator.
- Cellular phone and charger
- Drinking water
- Prescription medications and first aid kit
- Batteries and flashlights
- Nonperishable foods and a nonelectric can opener
- Baby and pet food
Epoch Times contributed to this report.