FLORIDA — Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday that additional evacuations are coming ahead of Hurricane Irma, the powerful Category 5 storm slamming the Caribbean.
“If you’re told to evacuate, get out quickly,” Scott said Wednesday morning. “We can expect additional evacuations as this storm continues to come near our state. Everyone must listen to their local officials.”
He added: “Every Floridian should take this seriously and be aggressive to protect their family.”
Scott is activating an additional 900 members of the Florida National Guard to prepare for Hurricane Irma.
Scott called up the additional guard members on Wednesday, a day after he had activated an initial 100 members. During a stop in the Florida Keys, Scott said that he still plans to another 6,000 National Guard members report to duty on Friday.
The governor warned that Irma is “bigger, faster and stronger” than Hurricane Andrew. Andrew pummeled south Florida 25 years ago and wiped out entire neighborhoods due to its ferocious winds.
During his remarks Scott acknowledged that state officials were aware of fuel shortages and were trying to help get gas into the region. The Florida Highway Patrol accompanied gasoline trucks into the Florida Keys on Tuesday night.
The National Weather Service director says his staff is “very worried about the impact of winds and surge on the Keys” as Hurricane Irma approaches.
Director Louis Uccellini says all the hazards will be dangerous with Irma — that means the storm surge, high winds and heavy rain.
He says “very strong winds can do a lot of damage” in an urban environment like South Florida.
The key for Florida and the U.S. east coast is when and where Irma makes a “right turn” and heads north. He says where that happens “depends on a low pressure system over the Great Lakes region.”
To figure all this out, the weather service is using its newest satellite and launching 49 new balloons to gather information for computer models.