Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned at a briefing this morning that Miami-Dade is on track to suffer “major hurricane impacts with deadly storm surge and life-threatening winds” as Category 5 Hurricane Irma roars toward the U.S. with 180 mph winds.
“We can expect this all along the entire east coast. The Florida Keys should be prepared to start feeling the effects of the storm as early as tomorrow night,” Scott said. “Look at the size of this storm. It’s huge. It’s wider than our entire state and could cause major and life-threatening impacts on both coasts — coast to coast. Regardless of which coast you live on, be prepared to evacuate. Floridians on the west coast cannot be complacent. Just because models show it going along the east coast, the west coast will still have hurricane conditions and these storms can move and change.”
The governor said Irma is “much worse and more devastating on its current path” than 1992’s Hurricane Andrew, which registered winds at 175 mph.
Scott added that one of his office’s “top priorities” right now is fuel availability as Floridians line up at gas stations.
“We know there are problems with supply at gas stations and are working around the clock to get fuel to you,” he said. “Last night, I spoke with all the fuel retailers and I just got off the phone just a couple minutes ago with the oil companies. I have been very clear to the retailers and the oil companies that we have to know — we have to get the fuel as fast as we can out so everybody has the fuel to evacuate. We need to know exactly what their needs are so we can solve their needs.”
“The issues include fuel availability from our ports, federal rules and regulations, and getting fuel through traffic to gas stations. To address these concerns, we’re doing the following. I’ve spoken to FEMA, the Department of Energy, EPA and the White House about waiving federal rules and regulations to get as much fuel as possible into our state and through our ports,” Scott continued. “I’ve directed state law enforcement to provide escort services to gas trucks to get through traffic so they can get to the stations faster. One of the issues is just getting from the ports to the stations so they can put the fuel there and then get back and get more.”
The governor urged residents to call a state hotline, 1-800-955-5504, if they’re unable to evacuate because of the fuel shortage.
“If you know you’re going to a shelter in your county, please take only the fuel you need. You don’t need to fill your tank to the brim to stay in your own county. I’ve said many times you have to take what you need, and we’ve got to be considerate to try to get as many people the fuel they need,” he said, adding his administration is “laser-focused on how we get as much fuel as possible to our ports while they’re open.”
Scott addressed highway bottlenecks and jams from people trying to evacuate. “I know many of you are in traffic. I know it’s frustrating, but please be patient… We have traffic cameras on every major roadway in the state and are clearing trafficking issues real-time so we can keep people moving.”
More than 4,000 Florida National Guard have been activated, and officials are preparing for the eventuality that the storm could knock out bridges in the Florida Keys.
“We’ve had more than 6,800 volunteers sign up in 24 hours. So thank you for that. This includes more than 1,000 state employees. This is great. We need more,” Scott said. “We need a total of 17,000 volunteers statewide. You can go to VolunteerFlorida.org to sign up for volunteer opportunities, or you can call 1-800-FLHelp1.”
The National Weather Service said Florida should expect to get hit Saturday through Monday morning. “The threat for major impacts for South Florida continues to increase,” NWS Miami tweeted this morning.
— NHC Atlantic Ops (@NHC_Atlantic) September 7, 2017