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Miami Beach Congresswoman: Number of People Who Won't Evacuate is 'Terrible'

Abby Jenkins walks with her suitcase on Miami Beach, Fla., before evacuating inland Sept. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

The congresswoman whose district includes Miami Beach lamented today that a “terrible” number of people have decided to ride out Hurricane Irma, a currently Category 4 storm that could pick up speed before making landfall in the United States early Sunday morning.

“Get ready, it’s coming, there’s nothing we can do about it. Don’t think you can ride this out,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who will ride out the storm at a house in south Miami, said on CNN today. “Miami Beach is boarded up. I mean, it’s a major economic loss, but the loss of life is what’s all important. I represent the whole coastline from Miami Beach to south Dade and it is terrible, the number of people who are still in these areas who won’t leave.”

She stressed that she was there for Florida’s previous big hurricanes, “but this one is a whopper.”

“And I totally understand. You don’t want to leave your home. This is everything that you have. So I understand that. But in places like Miami Beach, you just got to leave. You maybe – you think you can ride it out… but here, this is ground zero,” Ros-Lehtinen warned. “…It’s going to flood. I mean, we get rainy day flooding, climate change, it’s real. All of this, you know, whether you agree that it’s human, manufactured or not, look, it is happening and we have to be careful. We have to be ready. The shelters are open. If you haven’t evacuated, do so now.”

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) told MSNBC that the “mistake” in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina was the U.S. military and the Louisiana National Guard being “on separate pages.”

“I think that has been taken care of now with a coordinator between the Guard as well as the U.S. military. There seems to be the coordination on all of the emergency operations centers, which I’ve been over several,” Nelson said. “And I think Florida’s prepared, but when you get 155-plus miles an hour winds nobody is going to be prepared for that kind of destruction.”

The Florida Hurricane Catastrophic Fund has “billions of dollars of reserves that will ensure against the insurance companies going bust,” he added. “So it’s much better.”

“FEMA is really stretched in all of its resources. They’ve actually had to pull people out of Texas and preposition them for Florida. Same with supplies. So, whatever has improved since Andrew, 25 years ago, we’re really going to get a strain this time.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) today urged various agencies to take preparation steps to aid Hurricane Irma victims, including asking the Department of Health and Human Services to brace for a potential surge in the Zika virus due to a post-storm mosquito boom.

Rubio also asked President Trump to approve Seminole Tribe Chairman Marcellus W. Osceola Jr.’s request for an emergency declaration to aid numerous reservations expected to be hit by the storm.