Lazaro Aleman: Greene Publishing, Inc.
Coming on the heels of the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Tx., and with its force strengthened to a Category 5 storm early Tuesday morning, Florida officials are taking no chances with Hurricane Irma, which appears to be headed for this state.
On Monday, Sept. 4, Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for the state’s 67 counties, including Madison County.
“Today, given the forecasts and the intensity of this storm, I have declared a state of emergency for every county in Florida to make certain that state, federal and local governments are able to work together and make sure resources are dispersed to local communities as we get prepared for this storm,” read Scott’s statement, posted on the flgov.com website.
“In Florida,” continued the Governor’s message, “we always prepare for the worst and hope for the best and, while the exact path of Irma is not absolutely known at this time, we cannot afford to not be prepared. This state of emergency allows our emergency management officials to act swiftly in the best interest of Floridians without the burden of bureaucracy or red tape.”
The Governor went on to urge Floridians and communities to remain vigilant and begin taking immediate precautions to safeguard critical infrastructures, as well as their properties and general welfare.
Emergency officials are warning that Irma has the potential to “dump up to 10 inches of rain, unleash landslides and dangerous flashfloods and generate waves of up to 23 feet as the storm draws closer.”
The storm was upgraded to a Category 5 storm early Tuesday morning, Sept 5. The latest models from the National Hurricane Center (NHC), as of Tuesday morning, showed the storm on track to hit the southern tip of the Florida peninsula, with Miami and the Keys particularly vulnerable.
“There is an increasing chance of seeing some impacts from Irma in the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys later this week and this weekend,” the NHC reported early Tuesday. “In addition, rough surf and dangerous marine conditions will begin to affect the southeastern US coast by later this week.”
It’s also possible that the storm could track up the state or across into the Gulf of Mexico, according to other models. Officials say it’s simply too early to determine its exact path.
Even so, the latest storm track from the NHC projects that Irma could reach Florida by 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9. At last report, the storm had sustained winds of 175 mph and was expected to strengthen over the next few days.
The last time a hurricane of this magnitude hit Florida was Hurricane Andrew in 1992, a Category 5 storm that caused untold property damage and loss of life in South Florida, particularly in the Miami area.
Since then, two other monster storms have devastated U.S. cities, Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans in 2005, and Hurricane Harvey hitting Houston just last week.
Experts say that if Irma makes landfall in Florida as a Category 4 or 5 storm, it will be the first time in 102 years that two hurricanes of such magnitude hit the mainland in the same year.
Whatever one’s political persuasion or belief system, whether one attributes these monster storms to global warming or natural cyclical patterns, there can be no debate that they appear to be occurring more frequently.