Florida governor warns Irma ‘most catastrophic’ storm to hit state

MEGAN THOMPSON: As strong winds began pounding Miami and the Florida keys, the state had opened up more than 300 shelters for evacuees.

The cost of Hurricane Irma, described as one of the most powerful Atlantic storms in a century, is seen costing at least 1.2 billion euros (1.09 billion pounds) in Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy, a French public reinsurance body said on Saturday.

Irma is a huge and risky storm system that continues to pose a threat to all of South Florida”, said Barbara Sharief, mayor of Broward County, which covers the area north of Miami, including Fort Lauderdale.

“Do not think the storm is over when the wind slows down”, he said during a regular briefing for journalists.

As Irma crosses the warm waters of the Straits of Florida the storm will likely restrengthen.

At least 25 people have been killed since Irma began its devastating march through the Caribbean earlier this week. The Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports shut down, and those in Orlando and Tampa planned to do the same later in the day. After it passes it is expected to gradually weaken, the centre said.

That uncertainty has forced hospitals from the Florida Keys all the way to the coastal barrier islands of SC to move patients. The state’s fruit industry has been hit by “citrus greening”, a plant disease that has wiped out crops and cut production by about two-thirds in recent years.

Irma still ranked as a Category 5 storm when it crashed into Cuba during the morning.

Orange juice prices have already been creeping higher as Florida braces for the storm.

The late change in course may prove a let off to cities in the east, but local authorities took pains to prevent complacency setting in.

Florida’s agriculture, fishing and horticulture industries bring in $150 billion per year.

As Hurricane Irma looms closer, officials are warning that everyone in the Florida Keys should get out before the storm hits. Almost 30,000 people had lost power, mostly in and around Miami and Fort Lauderdale, as the wind began gusting.

He told CNN the island “is like a shell” with widespread destruction.

Cooper said Irma’s rains could cause landslides in the mountains.

But fortified roofs and other measures to secure buildings have persuaded people like Joy McRae of Homestead, which includes a major agricultural area, to stay put rather than join the hordes trying to escape for safer ground north on the Florida Turnpike and Interstate 95. It’s not yet clear when they’ll be able to come back online.

Most residents who intend to evacuate have already done so. Almost 40% of Miami’s gas stations, for example, were completely out of stock Friday.

On highway 75 along the western coast of Florida, a steady stream of cars pressed northward as thousands fled at the last minute from the fast-approaching killer hurricane. Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne estimates reconstruction will cost $US100m. “Around the same time, Scott signed the state legislature’s repeal of the state’s 1985 growth management law, leading to a spike in development”.

The storm could have an immediate impact on the job market.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said:”The UK government is responding to the catastrophic damage that has been caused by Hurricane Irma to the Caribbean and in particular obviously to the overseas territories, Anguilla, and the British Virgin Islands“. Irma has the potential to be even worse.

People across the state are preparing for the worst – but hoping for the best.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *