Hurricane Irma ‘to devastate the United States’ 0

Hurricane Irma is still “extremely dangerous” and will “devastate” parts of Southeastern United States, federal officials and agencies have warned.

“Obviously Hurricane Irma continues to be a threat that is going to devastate the United States,” Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator (FEMA), said at a press conference Friday morning. “We’re going to have a couple rough days.”

Long, whose agency is still preoccupied with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, which caused catastrophic flooding in parts of Texas and Louisiana last month, said around 3,000 federal emergency workers have been mobilized to deal with Irma.

Irma, one of the strongest storms in US history, is surging towards the US after causing death and destruction in the Caribbean islands.

Irma is still “extremely dangerous,” with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph (241 km), which are strong enough to uproot trees, bring down power poles and rip off the roofs and some exterior walls of well-built frame homes, The National Weather Service cautioned.

Irma was downgraded from a Category 5 to a Category 4 storm early Friday morning. As of 11 am Eastern Time, the storm was moving 14 mph (22 km) and located 405 miles (651 km) southeast of Miami, Florida.

The National Weather Service issued its first hurricane warnings for Florida Thursday night, warning residents that “preparations to protect life should be rushed to completion.”

Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for barrier islands, coastal communities, low-lying areas and mobile homes across Florida. Experts estimate roughly 1.2 million Florida residents have been ordered to evacuate.

Meteorologists expect Irma will make landfall near Miami as a strong Category 4 hurricane with winds about 140 mph (225 km).