Evacuations are underway en-mass today after Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean with winds of about 185mph just as aid agencies prepare for a large scale humanitarian response.
National Hurricane Center in America said Hurricane Irma gathered strength and moved into a Category 5 storm just as it made its landfall in the northeast Islands of the Caribbean on a path that may likely take it to the United States America, a feat that is has caused panic buying among thousands of residents who are also preparing to evacuate the area to safety.
The first touch or Irma was on Barbuda, and officials have asked people to seek protection from the potentially catastrophic natural disaster.Irma is estimated to be the size of France.
Heavy rain and strong winds from the Irma measures as the most powerful ever to be recorded in the Atlantic Ocean as it plowed through the island of Antigua, pulling debris into the air as people hid in their homes and in government provided shelters.Anguilla is the next Island on the path of the monster storm.
Meanwhile, state of emergencies has been declared in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Florida by President Donald Trump just as authorities in the Bahamas say they are evacuating the residents of six islands of the southern parts of the island chain.
Hurricane Irma is so strong that the devices designed to detect it are registering it as an earthquake, experts say.It is going to be the second powerful storm to make landfall in the United States after Hurricane Harvey.
Just behind Hurricane Irma, is another Tropical Storm, Jose which has now formed in the Atlantic but far away from land. It will be the 10th tropical storm of the season.
The Red Cross said it is prepared for the major humanitarian response, that may be needed as the storm hits, saying that the forecast is extremely disturbing.
The director of the agency said one of the main challenges they would face is going to be logistical, owing to the isolation of some the islands that would be affected.
There have been four other storms that had strong winds in the overall Atlantic region, but they all have been in the Gulf of Mexico of the Caribbean Sea where the usually warmer waters cause tropical cyclones to form.
The National Hurricane center says there is a possibility that the effects of Irma could be felt in Florida in the later part of the week and probably over the weekend, adding that it was still quite early to be certain of the storm’s future path.
However, a state of emergency has been declared in the state of Florida and a compulsory evacuation is ongoing in the Florida Keys. Schools have been closed until further notice.
Florida state governor, Rick Scott has also activated 100 members of the Florida National Guard. They have been deployed across the state. Also, 7,000 additional National Guard members are to report for duty on Friday when the storm is likely to touch down in the state.
People have been seen rushing to buy drinking water, as well as other supplies to help them survive the storm.
Meanwhile, flights heading to the Caribbean have either been grounded or diverted forcing tourists to cancel their holiday plans.
The Antigua airport will be shut on Wednesday while the San Juan airport, which is Puerto Rico’s busiest, has 40 percent of its flight canceled as a precaution to the hurricane.