A curfew is being imposed tonight in Miami to stop looters from taking advantage of the millions of homes which have been abandoned as Hurricane Irma heads for Florida.
The coastal state was on the way for a direct hit but it had a sudden lifeline on Saturday when the storm changed its course as it battered Cuba.
People are still being warned not to return to their houses given the large outer bands which still pose a deadly risk of 10ft storm surge.The curfew implies that anyone seen on the street between 7 pm and 7 am on Saturday will have questions to answer to police.
The curfew became necessary to prevent looters from breaking into the many houses which have been abandoned by the residents as was the case of hurricane Katrina.
About 6.3million residents have been advised to evacuate in preparation for Irma and there are 54,000 Floridians in shelters.
Authorities say time is running out for those who are now planning to leave their homes, with the outer bands of Irma already in parts of southern Florida with heavy rains and strong winds.Governor Rick Scott has again warned those in the path of the storm to leave before it gets late.
Cuba continued to suffer under the storm on Saturday after IRMA made landfall on Friday. It is expected to move towards Florida on Sunday afternoon.It will move towards the southwest, touching Sarasota and then Tampa on Monday.
Hurricane Irma has so far claimed about 24 lives after hitting the Caribbean, and the death toll is expected to rise.
Governor Rick Scott said the storm is catastrophic and bigger than the state while pleading with residents to evacuate on Saturday.He added that even though the state was prepared for the storm, there is need to get people out.
About Seven thousand National Guard troops have been deployed to help in dealing with the catastrophe. Residents of Florida have been told to prepare food and water that will take them for about three days.
This is the largest evacuation in the history of the US, as six million people in the State of Florida and parts of Georgia have been advised to leave their houses before the hurricane strikes on Sunday afternoon.
After Irma changed course and headed for Cuba on Saturday, authorities warned people not to return to their homes as the danger was not over
All airports in the southeastern part of Florida have been closed and anyone who may still be there is being asked to leave immediately or to go to any of the shelters set up.
Inside the shelters, some evacuees compared the condition to that of Guantanamo Bay, as it is cramped up.Some unlucky people have been turned back as the spaces have reached their full capacity.
Some people are being turned away as high schools and other public spaces reach capacity.There are 42 planned shelters in Miami, but as at Friday night, only about 21 of the shelters have been announced.
Miami may no longer be directly in the eye of the storm, but winds arising from it can still destroy the city, with windows of high-rise buildings expected to be shattered by the sustained winds.
photo courtesy Getty images