FEMA Director: Irma ‘Is Going to Devastate the United States,’ Starting With Florida

By Susan Jones | September 8, 2017 | 9:35am EDT
Infrared imagery from Suomi NPP reveals cloud top temperatures as cold as (white) 190 kelvin (minus 117.7 degrees Fahrenheit) from Irma's northern quadrant, stretching through the eastern side to the south of the eye. (Photo: NOAA/NASA/UWM-CIMSS, William Straka III)

(CNSNews.com) – FEMA Director Brock Long, in a Friday morning update, told a news conference there’s no question that Hurricane Irma will devastate parts of the souheastern United States:

“Obviously, Hurricane Irma continues to be a threat that is going to devastate the United States in either Florida or some of the southeastern states,” Long told a 7:30 a.m. news conference.

“This is a complex forecast. Anybody from Alabama to North Carolina should be watching this storm very closely. The forecast and the direct impacts of this storm have yet to be determined because, one, it's a very powerful storm. 

“But the nature of the curve in that forecast after 72 hours is going to be the key to see who gets the worst impacts here. It's not a question of if Florida’s going to be impacted, it's a question of how bad Florida’s going to be impacted and where the storm ends up over the next four to five days as it passes inland.”

Long said anyone from Alabama to North Carolina needs to monitor Irma and take preparations.

“Obviously there's a lot of evacuation activity taking place in Florida over the last 24 to 48 hours. Heed all local warnings,” Long said.

“The goal is -- get out of the storm surge-vulnerable area, that is wind-driven, coastal, storm surge flooding waters coming onshore. That's the most devastating hazard associated with hurricanes. Get out of that storm surge area and get into a facility that can withstand the winds. 

That doesn't mean you have to travel hundreds of miles to do so, but get out of the storm surge area into a facility that can withstand the winds

Later today, I know that other states are also considering evacuation movement, and the jurisdiction ask or call for mandatory evacuations -- may be directed by the governor or your local officials. 

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican who represents the Miami-Dade area, told CNN’s “New Day” on Friday that “this mother of a storm…it’s going to impact everybody” in Florida.

She said in terms of preparations, Miami-Dade is as prepared as it can be, with another eight shelters opening today:

“Whether we're going to all be great after a storm of this magnitude, of course we can't predict that. But how much can you plan? We have done it. We've got everything functioning, and people are talking to one another. The first responders are ready. 

It's a shame what's happening in the Keys, in an area I used to represent. Chris, people just did not evacuate from the Keys, and as all the first responders have said, ‘We are not going to be there to save you.’” 

Ros-Lehtinen said “a lot” of people living in the Florida Keys decided to stay behind.

“People don't want to leave their homes, and I understand that. But if you can, it is not too late. The shelters are open,” the congresswoman said.  
“So Miami-Dade is as ready as you can be, but this is a monster of a hurricane.”

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