Irma landfall: 6.3 million people told to evacuate from Florida
Washington, Sep 9: Florida has ordered 6 million people, including thousands of Indian-Americans, to evacuate as massive Hurricane Irma barrelled towards the state after wreaking havoc on the Caribbean islands.
Irma is expected to make landfall on Florida on Sunday, which at its current trend officials said is likely to cause devastation across Florida and surrounding areas.
The number of people in Florida under orders to evacuate climbed to 6.3 million, authorities said. An additional 700,000 million people were told to get moving since Friday after state officials said 5.6 million people were under evacuation orders.
The state's division of emergency management said it "estimates that 6.3 million Floridians have been ordered to evacuate." "It is not a question of if Florida is going to be impacted, it is a question of how bad Florida's going to be impacted," said Brock Long, head of Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Hurricane Irma continues to be a threat that is going to devastate the United States, and either Florida or some of the southeastern states. Anybody from Alabama to North Carolina should be watching this storm very closely, Long said. Florida is also home to thousands of Indian-Americans.
In addition to thousands of federal employees, several thousand-military personnel have been deployed by the Department of Defence to meet any eventuality in the aftermath of Irma hitting the coast of Florida.
"We need the people to listen to their local officials. But when we see evacuations taking place, what we try to do is break down the number that are going to need mass care support, and some of those numbers are well over 100,000 people in shelters for this event," Long said.
US President Donald Trump received a briefing on Hurricane Irma. He "was given an overview of the recent impact of the hurricane on the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and neighbouring islands and the ongoing response efforts of the Federal and territorial governments," the White House said. A state of emergency has been declared in Florida.
Earlier in the day, Trump signed a legislation that provides an additional USD 15.25 billion in emergency appropriations for disaster relief and extends the authorisation of the National Flood Insurance Programme through to December 8.
"Additionally, as the damage from Hurricane Irma unfolds, it is especially important that the men and women in the Southeast and our Caribbean territories stand strong and rest assured that this Administration will always put the needs of the American people above partisan politics as usual," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
Sanders said Trump is constantly monitoring Hurricane Irma, and the federal government is working closely with state and local partners to ensure the safety of the coastal communities.