—- Miami now a ghost town as Floridians wait bumper-to-bumper to flee Irma that has 1.4 Million under evacuation as FEMA warns the deadly hurricane could ‘devastate’ the US.

—- Meteorologists are now predicting that Miami will bear the brunt of Hurricane Irma when it hits the mainland

—- 1.4 million people are now under evacuation in Florida and Georgia

—- Floridians are sitting in hours-long traffic jams to head north for shelter before the storm  

—- The storm has the potential to do $125billion worth of damage when it strikes Miami – and possibly much more

—- Category 4 storm has caused devastation in the Caribbean, killing at least 24 and leveling entire islands

—- Extensive damage has been reported on Barbuda and St Martin, with over 90 per cent of buildings wrecked

—- The storm is currently battering the northeastern coast of Cuba

Apocalyptic scenes are playing out across the Sunshine State, as more than a million people flee Hurricane Irma’s wrath.

In the usually bustling city of Miami, the streets and beaches are eerily empty and businesses boarded up. Meanwhile, Floridians sit in hours-long traffic jams on all roads leading north to seek shelter with friends and family.

An estimated 1.4million people have been given mandatory orders to evacuate in Florida and Georgia, and that number is expected to grow as the storm approaches. Mandatory evacuation orders are in effect for all of the counties in the southern tip of Florida and for most all the way up the east coast. Residents in the coastal areas of Georgia, including Savannah, are also under evacuation.

The latest forecasts show the storm making landfall just south of Miami Sunday morning, but dangerous winds and storm surges could start as early as Saturday night.

It’s then expected to track directly up the state, crossing the state line into Georgia early next week.

Irma weakened slightly Friday, from a Category 5 storm to a Category 4 storm, but remained a dangerous and deadly hurricane threatening to deliver a blow Florida hasn’t seen in more than a decade.

As of Friday afternoon, Irma was clocking sustained winds of 150 mph and is forecast to remain at Category 4 when it comes ashore.

‘Obviously Hurricane Irma continues to be a threat that is going to devastate the United States,’ Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator (FEMA), said at a Friday press conference. ‘We’re going to have a couple rough days.’

The storm killed at least 24 people in the Caribbean and left thousands homeless as it devastated small islands in its path.

The National Hurricane Center issued hurricane warnings for the Keys and parts of South Florida and Lake Okeechobee. It added a storm surge warning and extended watch areas wrapping around much of the peninsula.

For Irma, forecasters predicted a storm surge of 6 to 12 feet above ground level along Florida’s southwest coast and in the Keys. As much as a foot of rain could fall across the state, with isolated spots receiving 20 inches.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has been pleading with his citizens all week to evacuate if they are ordered to, and to prepare – no matter the direction of the storm.

At a Friday morning press conference, his message grew even more dire.

‘We’re running out of time. The storm is almost here. If you are in an evacuation storm you need to go now,’ he said.

He added: ‘This is a catastrophic storm that our state has never seen. We can rebuild your home but we can’t rebuild your life. Protecting life is our absolute top priority. Our number one priority is protecting everyone’s life. Everyone’s life is important. No resource or expense will be spared to protect families.’

While current projects show the storm hitting Miami and then going up the state’s east coast towards Florida, Scott said that all Floridians needed to prepare because the storm’s so large and powerful that it will cause serious winds and storm surge on both coasts.  

‘It is wider than our entire state and could cause major and life-threatening impacts from coast to coast. Regardless of which coast you live on, be prepared to evacuate,’ Scott said.

He ordered all state offices, schools, colleges and universities to close from Friday until Monday to free up space for evacuation shelters and staging. Most school districts and universities had already voluntarily agreed to close due to the looming arrival of Hurricane Irma over the weekend – but many school districts and colleges in north central and northwest Florida had remained open.

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Source: dailymail.co.uk



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