Florida residents brace for Hurricane Irma

World Today

Experts say Hurricane Irma has the potential to be the most costly storm in U.S. history. And residents of the state of Florida, like those of Puerto Rico, are taking this storm seriously.

CGTN’s Steve Mort reports.

Follow Steve Mort on Twitter @mobilemort

Across Florida, long lines form at supermarkets and gas stations, essentials are in short supply, and stores struggle to meet demand as Irma bears down on the Miami area’s six million residents.

“They only let you get two waters and the line is around the block,” Barbara Effman, a resident, said. “This is the third place I came to today. This is the first one I got any water at.”

“It’s scary,” Paul Acosta, another resident said. “I didn’t think it was that serious, until seeing how people are acting up. There was actually two people fighting over cutting the line and stuff like that. It’s crazy.”

Many Floridians said they’re taking no chances after watching the devastation in Texas caused by Hurricane Harvey.

“We’ve had our storms here not that long ago,” resident David Graham said. “And we got hit pretty good before, so people are being a little more vigilant.”

Motorists are also swarming to gas stations throughout the state amid reports of shortages.

Prices at the pump have been rising steadily over the last few days, and some gas stations said they’ve already run out of supplies as nervous Floridians look to buy fuel for their vehicles and generators.

Meanwhile, Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency ahead of Irma. He also had a reminder for Floridians: “Remember, we can rebuild your home, but we cannot rebuild your life.”

A mandatory evacuation order is in place for the Florida Keys and Miami residents are being urged to move to higher ground.

Officials warn Irma could be worse than Hurricane Andrew, which devastated parts of the state in 1992.

“This storm is massive,” Governor Scott reiterated, “and the storm surge as predicted will go for miles. This is a massive storm. In some incidents it could cover homes and go very far inland.”

As Irma’s record-breaking winds roar through the Caribbean, its track remains uncertain. But forecasters agree that Florida will start feeling the winds and rain from the storm as early as Saturday.