US President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Rick Scott were urging residents of south Florida to heed evacuation orders in the face of approaching Hurricane Irma, which had already wreaked havoc across the Caribbean. “Hurricane Irma is of epic proportion, perhaps bigger than we have ever seen. Be safe and get out of its way, if possible,” Trump tweeted.
Irma had weakened to a Category 4 storm on Friday with winds of up to 240 kilometres per hour, but remained one of the most powerful storms that Florida had ever faced, officials warned.
Its effects were being felt on northern Cuba and the Bahamas on Friday and it was expected to reach Miami on Sunday, the US National Hurricane Center said. Forecasters warned of “severe hurricane conditions” over parts of the Florida peninsula and the Florida Keys from Saturday night.
Much of the southern part of the state faced evacuation orders and roads were clogged with cars heading north.
Florida Governor Rick Scott urged residents to evacuate as soon as possible if ordered to do so, warning first responders could not offer help as the storm hits.
“If you’re told to evacuate, leave, get out quickly,” Scott said. “Do not put yourself or your family’s life at risk.”
“This is a catastrophic storm that our state has never seen,” he said “We can rebuild your home we cannot rebuild your life.”
The US and state governments were preparing disaster response, including shelters across Florida and the deployment of the National Guard.
Irma led to widespread damage on the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Saint Martin, Saint Barthelemy, as well as St Kitts and Nevis.
Irma had left at least nine people dead on the French part of Saint Martin and on St Barthelemy, French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said, noting at least seven others were missing. Some 112 people were injured, among them two
seriously. Collomb said the casualties could increase. — Agencies
Move to safer areas, Omani students told
With a hurricane warning having been issued for much of South Florida, Omani students in all the Florida universities have been asked to move to safer places.
Oman’s Cultural Attaché in Washington has also promised to cover the students’ travel and hotel expenses up to September 11. Therefore, they have been asked to retain the travel/ hotel bills for claiming expenses. The Omani students can contact the attaché on 571-265-2657 or emergency line 911.
Fahad Al Ghadani