Gov. Rick Scott officially declared a State of Emergency for all of Florida’s 67 counties on Monday in preparation for what could be the most powerful storm to hit Florida in over a decade.
Hurricane Irma, currently a Category 4 storm, is still miles away from the East Coast of the U.S., but forecasters say it’s possible the storm could intensify and strike Florida and other parts of the Atlantic Coast by next weekend.
“Hurricane Irma is a major and life-threatening storm and Florida must be prepared,” said Scott in a statement Monday. “Today, given these 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.”
Gov. Scott emphasized the need to be ready if and when Irma should make landfall in the Sunshine State.
“In Florida, 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,” he said. “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.”
Irma formed in the Atlantic Ocean late last month and quickly intensified, with meteorologists fearing the storm could become a Category 5 storm and make landfall, leaving destruction and catastrophe in its path.
A hurricane advisory was issued for the Caribbean Islands Monday as the storm barrelled westward, threatening the region with high-speed winds and torrential rainfall.
Emergency officials have said that the storm could dump up to 10 inches of rain, unleash landslides as well as flash floods and generate waves of up to 23 feet.
Category 4 storms produce wind speeds from 130-156 miles per hour and can cause significant damage, including downed power lines and water and electricity outages.
Irma is projected to strengthen over the next 48 hours and emergency officials have painted a grim picture if the storm makes its way to South Florida.
If Irma makes landfall, it will be the second catastrophic storm to hit the U.S. in a matter of weeks. Last month, Hurricane Harvey dumped nearly 50 inches of rain on parts of Texas and Louisiana, leaving dozens of people dead and many roads and neighborhoods completely flooded.