With Hurricane Irma once again a Category 5 Storm, Governor Rick Scott urged residents to make their final moves to shelters or to protect their homes during one of the final updates before the storm strikes the US mainland.
“I urge everyone to talk to your neighbors, your family and friends,” Scott said. “Every Floridian should take this seriously and be aggressive to protect your family. … Your positions can be replaced, your life cannot be replaced, your family cannot be replaced.”
More than 260 shelters are open around the state, he added, and 70 more will open over the course of the day. “Everyone in Florida needs to find a safe place to go.”
Traffic is moving on evacuation routes, he said, though there is still congestion in some areas. “Evacuations are not meant to be convenient, they’re meant to be safe,” he said. “If you don’t need to be on the road, don’t be on the road.” Residents can go to FL511.com for updates on traffic and evacuation routes.
Scott urged people to act now, before the storm paralyzes authorities and civilians alike.
“We can’t do it once the storm starts.”
He said that the state is working “aggressively to keep gas stations open and filled”, but that the state’s ports are already closed and supplies will be cut off within hours.
Every available Florida guardsman has been deployed, he said, guiding people to shelters and preparing for the aftermath of the storm. “We are under a state of emergency. Healthcare staff, we need you to be there to help your community.”
Finally, Scott made a plea for more volunteers.
“We need 1,000 volunteer nurses for special needs shelters.” He said nurses can go to FLHealth.gov for more information about how to help.
By early Saturday morning, the storm shifted west, putting the Florida Keys in its cross hairs and prompting officials to open more shelters. By 6 a.m., the outer bands of Irma had begun moving into Miami-Dade County. By 9 a.m., the storm had regained its Category 5 status.
So far, about 5.6 million people — more than a quarter of the state’s population — have been ordered to leave their homes.
Scott is urging all Floridians to be prepared, saying: “The storm is here."