Floridians are keeping a close watch on Irma as the Category 5 hurricane continues to plow through the Caribbean on a path that is projected to take the storm to South Florida by this weekend.
Gov. Rick Scott urged all Floridians to monitor the storm’s progress, listen to local authorities and have a plan.
“Look at the size of this storm. It’s huge,” Scott said during a briefing in Hialeah. “It’s wider than our entire state and could cause major and life-threatening impacts on both coasts.”
Current forecast models have the storm hitting South Florida sometime on Sunday then moving up the state’s east coast.
“These things can change and just a small change can change which coast it’s going down,” Scott added.
Even if Irma stays on the projected path, Scott says much of the state will experience some effects from the storm based on its size and strength.
“Based on what we now know, Miami-Dade will have major hurricane impacts with deadly storm surge and life-threatening winds,” Scott warned. He says that will be true for the state’s entire east coast.
The Florida Keys are expected to begin feeling the effects of Irma by as early as Friday night.
“We’re going to do everything we can to keep everybody safe but we all have to do this together,” the governor said.
Scott says one of the state’s top priorities is the availability of gasoline so that people can evacuate. He says the state is working with oil companies and retailers to ensure fuel is available to residents trying to flee from Irma.
The governor says he has spoken with the White House and several federal officials about waiving federal restrictions to expedite the shipment of gasoline into the state.
Law enforcement is providing escorts for fuel tankers to help get the fuel to gas stations and convenience stores faster.
The state is providing help to those who wish to evacuate but who fear they can’t get the needed fuel to leave their homes. If you have concerns about getting fuel or are having difficulty evacuating you can call the state for assistance at 1-800-955-5504.
Gov. Scott says neighboring states have waived highway restrictions for tanker trucks to help get more gasoline to Florida.
The governor today activated another 3,000 National Guard members to help with the opening of shelters and evacuation.
Scott says he spoke with both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday and they both assured him Florida will have the full support of the federal government.
The governor says the state needs volunteers to help with the response to Hurricane Irma. He says 6,800 people signed up in the pasts 24 hours, but Scott says the state needs to 17,000 volunteers to meet the needs of affected Floridians.
“We got to survive this storm and then we got to get back,” Scott insisted. “We’re going to prepare. We’re going to try to keep everybody safe. We’re going to recover everybody. And, then we’re going to get everybody back to work as quickly as we can.”