In the midst of an attempted shutdown of Gab and in the midst of discrediting the Ballad Of Heather The Heifer, it’s been relatively unnoticed that a nice chunk of the Southeast may soon come under the clouds of one of the strongest hurricanes ever seen in documented history.
It’s currently packing winds somewhere in the range of 185-200 MPH, and has already surged past some of the minor Caribbean islands after leaving destruction on an almost-Biblical scale.
#Irma is wrecking Saint Martin…
— Kurt Siegelin (@kurtsiegelin) September 6, 2017
And now Hurricane Irma is headed towards what appears to be the southern coast of Florida, and perhaps beyond in any direction.
Hurricane Irma’s size and strength put the entire state of Florida on notice Tuesday, and residents and visitors prepared to leave in anticipation of catastrophic winds and floods that could reach the state by this weekend.
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.”
Irma’s winds were 185 mph (297 kph) Tuesday, a strong Category 5 storm, and forecasters say it could strengthen more as it neared the eastern-most Caribbean islands, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
The storm had the most powerful winds ever recorded for a storm in the Atlantic Ocean and posed an immediate threat to the small islands of the northern Leewards, including Antigua and Barbuda, as well as the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
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 (193 kph). Five people died.
Florida Gov. Rick 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 the impacts could be felt inland, away from the coast. He said Floridians need to follow any evacuation orders.
“This storm has the potential to devastate this state, and you have to take this seriously,” Scott said from the state’s emergency operations center in Tallahassee, the state capital. “Remember: We can rebuild your home; we cannot rebuild your life.”
In the Florida Keys, a chain of 42 low-lying islands that includes Key West, government officials said visitors would be told to leave Wednesday and residents should be out by the next day.
“This is not one to fool around with,” said Monroe County spokeswoman Cammy Clark, whose county contains the Keys.
Under a mandatory evacuation order, no one is forced by police or other government agencies to leave, but anyone who stays should not expect to be rescued if they are in danger, officials said. The island chain has only one highway connecting it to the mainland.
Honestly, if you live in the Keys, evacuation to family or close friends may be the best option – we’re talking about EPIC storm surge that will turn the entire area into a REKT nightmare.
But if you live in other areas of Florida, or if you’re feeling tough enough to stand through the worst Irma has in her, just follow a few key tips.
- Stock up on several days worth of food and water (I would say prepare for at least a week of terrible conditions), and store everything in an area relatively free from contamination and damage.
- Set aside your most precious valuables and possessions in the same sort of area in order to have something to fall back on if the worst happens and your home is turned into rubble.
- Have first aid equipment at the ready for those who may wind up injured during the worst parts of the storm.
- If you live in a vibrant area, be ready to defend your home and family from the Colorful looters that will surely prowl the flooded streets once SHTF – Florida has a “stand your ground” law.
- Stay in touch with trusted family and friends for as long as possible – we’re just going to assume most of the state of Florida is going to lose power this weekend
And even if you don’t live in Florida, but live in an area ranging from coastal Alabama to the Carolinas, follow the details of this storm closely due to the fact that forecasts have changed several times already, and because we all remember times when hurricanes have done some really strange things in terms of movement.