Even Fla. Keys Residents Ready to Evacuate Ahead of Irma - NBC New York
After Irma

After Irma

Complete coverage of Hurricane Irma, a monster storm that struck Florida

Even Fla. Keys Residents Ready to Evacuate Ahead of Irma

"This is really bad — really, really, really bad," said one resident who lived through Hurricane Andrew in 1992



    Florida Keys Evacuate From Irma

    NBC 6's Julia Bagg has the latest as the southernmost point of Florida prepares for a potential strike from the massive storm.

    (Published Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017)

    Residents of the Florida Keys are known for riding out hurricanes, but with Irma's potentially catastrophic wind and rain set to crash through the low-lying island chain this weekend, not many seem willing to risk it this time.

    Throughout Florida, officials and residents are making preparations, but forecasts indicate the Keys could take the country's first blow from the Category 5 storm, which was packing 185 mph winds early Wednesday as it crossed Barbuda. From Key Largo south to Key West, residents and officials said Irma is a storm that needs to be fled.

    Keys officials announced a mandatory evacuation Wednesday for visitors at 7 a.m., with residents being told to leave starting at 7 p.m.. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who plans to fly to the Keys on Wednesday, said a hospital in the island chain would have its patients evacuated by air.

    "This is not one to fool around with," said Cammy Clark, spokeswoman for Monroe County, which contains the Keys.

    Janet Roberts, 51, was getting ready Tuesday to leave her mobile home community on Key Largo for her daughter's house 30 miles away in Florida City, which is the first city north of the Keys on the mainland.

    "She lives in a complex and has hurricane shutters. At least we stand half the chance," she said.

    Hurricane Irma Captured in 3 Day Time-LapseHurricane Irma Captured in 3 Day Time-Lapse

    A satellite time-lapse from Sept. 2, 2017, to Sept. 5, 2017, shows Hurricane Irma moving west toward the Leeward Islands as it changed from a Category 3 to a Category 5 hurricane.


    (Published Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017)

    She remembered how much damage Hurricane Andrew caused when its eye passed just north of Florida City in August 1992.

    "We didn't hit the eye, and I had nothing left," Roberts said. "This has Andrew beat. This is really bad — really, really, really bad."

    Throughout South Florida, officials readied evacuation orders and people raided store shelves, buying up water and other hurricane supplies. Long lines formed at gas stations and people pulled shutters out of storage and put up plywood to protect their homes and businesses.

    Parker Eastin filled up his gas tank at a busy fuel station. He and his girlfriend said they decided to plan well in advance after seeing what Hurricane Harvey did to Texas.

    "We ordered water off Amazon because the stores were out and also ordered food," said Eastin, a 43-year-old lawyer who has lived in Florida for 12 years. "Seeing the devastation in Texas is a sad reminder that you have to take the events very seriously."

    The last major storm to hit Florida was 2005's Wilma, its eye cutting through the state's southern third as it packed winds of 120 mph. Five people died.

    Scott declared a state of emergency in all 67 counties to give local governments "ample time, resources and flexibility" to prepare for the storm. President Donald Trump also approved a federal emergency declaration for the state ahead of the storm, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

    Scott warned that although officials don't know the storm's exact path, winds are likely to be "extreme and life-threatening" and impacts could be felt inland, away from the coast. He said Floridians need to follow any evacuation orders.

    NASA Releases Video of Hurricane Irma from SpaceNASA Releases Video of Hurricane Irma from Space

    The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Irma had sustained winds of 175 miles per hour and was centered about 270 miles east of Antigua. The center said there's a growing possibility that the storm's effects could be felt in Florida later this week and over the weekend, though it's still too early to be sure of its future track.

    (Published Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017)

    "This storm has the potential to devastate this state, and you have to take this seriously," Scott said Tuesday from the state's emergency operations center in Tallahassee, the state capital. "Remember: We can rebuild your home; we cannot rebuild your life."

    Under a mandatory evacuation order, no one is forced by police or other government agencies to leave, but people who stay should not expect to be rescued if they are in danger, officials said.

    The threat of the storm has put much of the state on edge. School districts along the east coast and in South Florida canceled classes for later this week, as did universities and colleges in Miami-Dade. The governor also shut down all state offices starting Friday and urged state workers to volunteer at shelters that are expected to open.

    But Scott conceded that Irma's uncertain path was making it difficult for officials to tell Floridians exactly where they should go. Some models have it slashing up the east coast, while other models have it cutting northward through the middle of the peninsula.

    Florida, Caribbean Prepare for Hurricane IrmaFlorida, Caribbean Prepare for Hurricane Irma

    As of Tuesday, Hurricane Irma was barreling through the Caribbean as a Category 5 storm. While unsure of Irma’s eventual path, Florida and islands in the Caribbean were preparing for possible landfall.

    (Published Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017)