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Evacuation starts in Florida as Irma landfall projected for Saturday

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-09-07 09:39

Evacuation starts in Florida as Irma landfall projected for Saturday

A Home Depot store employee helps to load bags of sand for customers in the Little Havana neighborhood in Miami, Florida, Sept 5, 2017. Residents are preparing for the approach of Hurricane Irma. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON - Evacuation has started in parts of Florida, which is expected to feel the wrath of record breaking Hurricane Irma this weekend.

Miami-Dade County officials are advising residents living in low-lying areas to start evacuating Wednesday, as well as individuals with special needs in Miami, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

Monroe County, which lies on the southern tip of the Florida Peninsula including the Florida Keys, issued a mandatory evacuation order for visitors starting Wednesday morning, and for residents starting Wednesday evening.

Broward County, to the North of Miami-Dade County, said all residents east of US Route One must evacuate starting at noon Thursday.

The orders of evacuation comes as the National Hurricane center modified the pathway of Hurricane Irma, the largest in history to form over the Atlantic Ocean, to cover the entire Florida peninsula after landing near Miami.

Rick Scott, Florida's Governor, warned in a news conference Wednesday afternoon in Monroe County that Floridians should take the hurricane seriously and not to take chances.

"The track now has a forecast of direct impact on the Florida Keys on Sunday as a devastating major hurricane. The Florida Keys should be prepared to start feeling the effects of this storm as early as Saturday," he said.

"A storm of this size could have effects statewide and everyone must be prepared... we all have to understand that this is serious and we cannot take chances," he said.

Scott said some 6,000 National Guards will be reporting to duty state wide.

"Storm surge and extreme winds are the biggest concern right now. This storm is bigger, faster and stronger than Hurricane Andrew," Scott said.

"We can rebuild your home, but we cannot rebuild your life," Scott said.

Hurricane Irma is moving west at 26 km per hour, at 85 km to the Northeast of Puerto Rico, with maximum sustained wind speed of 295 km per hour, according to the latest forecast from the National Hurricane Center.

The maximum sustained wind speed of Hurricane Irma as it approaches Florida is projected to be around 250 km per hour.

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