Hurricane Irma kills 9 in Caribbean as Florida awaits landfall
Residents of Florida are boarding up their homes, evacuating and heading North as they brace for the impact of Hurricane Irma. Meanwhile, islands in the Caribbean has already fallen victim to serious damage from the category 5 storm with wings reaching 180 mph.
The highest concentration of damage thus far took place on the island of Barbuda, where nearly every single building was destroyed, leaving more than half of its 1,400 people without homes and power, according to TIME. Puerto Rico also felt the brunt of the storm as nearly 900,000 people have been left without power.
“There are no leaves. It is crazy. One of the things we loved about St. Thomas is that it was so green. And it’s gone,” said Laura Strickling told TIME after she and her family made their way out of their St. Thomas basement apartment. “It will take years for this community to get back on its feet.”
The storm could avoid making direct contact with Florida but officials are still ordering residents and visitors to evacuate the area if they can, according to CNN. Certain areas of Broward county will have mandatory evacuations go into effect on Thursday.
FL Gov. Scott on #Irma: “Every Floridian, every family should take this seriously and be aggressive. You've got to protect your family.” pic.twitter.com/5zHpeSGAlE
— ABC News (@ABC) September 7, 2017
“(A) storm surge could cover your house. We can rebuild homes — we cannot rebuild your family,” Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday.
Today, Haiti and parts of the Dominican Republic are preparing for flooding and strong winds after the storm made contact early this morning. As much as 15 inches of rain could fall and lead to a series of dangerous mudslides.
So far, nine deaths have been reported following Hurricane Irma.