A mandatory evacuation has been ordered for residents in Broward County, the second-most populous county in Florida.
The evacuation applies to residents living in coastal areas east of the Federal Highway and in other low-lying areas starting from Thursday, Sept. 7.
The announcement was made in light of Hurricane Irma’s expected path, which currently puts the hurricane on a course to hit South Florida on Friday evening.
Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief first declared the news at a press conference on Sept. 6. She also said in a Facebook post that 14 shelters will be open by Thursday at noon. She added that all county operations would close by the end of the day.
“Irma is a dangerous storm and all residents should take it seriously. Everyone should be finalizing their plans and completing their preparations today and tomorrow,” she said.
Below is a video of the press conference:
The mayor also warned that residents should bring necessary provisions, reminding residents that shelters are not long-term solutions.
“Please remember that shelters are a refuge of last resort. They provide a safe—SHORT TERM—place to weather the storm, but you must bring items with you to ensure your personal comfort, including bedding, snacks, water, etc,” she said.
Broward County Sheriff, Scott Israel, said deputies would not be going door to door to check if residents in the evacuation zones have left, News10 an ABC affiliate reported.
Sharief urged residents who have to leave the county to move with family or friends outside of the evacuation areas.
“To alleviate traffic concerns, if you plan to stay with family or friends during the storm we ask that you take action today.”
Broward County has a population of nearly 1.9 million people.
The mayor said that South Florida Water Management District will be working around the clock to lower water canals and adjust water control structures in the lead up to the hurricane.
The mayor said while some motorists may have seen gas stations who have run out of fuel, she assured them on Wednesday that there is enough.
“Port Everglades (a seaport) is currently operating under normal conditions. At this time there are no fuel shortages and the Port has adequate supplies of diesel, jet fuel and gasoline. Trucks will continue fuel deliveries to gas stations throughout South Florida until Broward County experiences sustained tropical storm force winds.”
The mayor’s closing words: “Please, be Ready. Set. Safe. for this potentially very dangerous storm. Mayor Barbara Sharief.”