7 September 2017
By Justice Nwafor and Chukwudera Eze
As Hurricane Irma lashed the Caribbean Island early Thursday, killing at least 10 people, there are reports that the U.S. states of Georgia, Florida and South Carolina are fully braced for Irma landfall.
The storm has been described as “extremely dangerous” by the National Hurricane Center, NHC, which also noted that the storm was roaring towards the U.S. with winds of 180 mph and even higher gusts.
Upon hitting the Caribbean, Irma destroyed about 90 per cent of the structures and vehicles on Barbuda, officials said.
According to Midcie Francis, a spokeswoman for Antigua and Barbuda’s National Office of Disaster Services, one person died in Barbuda. On the other hand, the French Interior Minister confirmed that at St. Martin and St. Barthelemy, at least eight people died and 21 were injured.
Another person died in Anguilla, according to the Director of Disaster Management.
Meanwhile, the storm’s projected path is expected to go through the Bahamas Friday into Saturday morning and the storm is expected to curve north toward Florida by late Saturday afternoon.
On Sunday morning, Irma is expected to approach just south of Miami as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 145 mph. Forecasts show Irma weakening to a Category 3 hurricane near Daytona Beach on Monday morning as it creeps up the east coast.
The storm is expected to then move up the Florida coast as a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 125 mph.
Georgia and South Carolina are in the northern edge of the forecast cone as well.
Consequently, preparations are already underway in Florida, which could face “direct impacts,” according to the NHC, though it’s too soon to tell for sure.
Florida governor Rick Scott who declared a statewide state of emergency on Monday said on Wednesday that about 25,000 people have already evacuated.
ABC News reports that Hundreds of thousands of Floridians have been ordered to evacuate, while, Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys, and coastal parts of Broward County and Miami-Dade County was given mandatory evacuation order.
The French Interior Minister, Gerard Collomb, on Thursday said the death toll in Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthelemy could be higher because rescue teams have yet to finish their inspection of the islands.
Forecasters reported that sustained winds remained at 180 mph, with higher gusts. The storm was located 210 miles east-southeast of Grand Turk Island, moving at 170 mph.