Millions of residents took refuge in shelters or battered homes in Florida Sunday morning as Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the Atlantic hit the state with 130 mph winds and catastrophic high seas.
Gov. Rick Scott urged Florida residents to heed their local evacuation orders yesterday on Saturday, Sept. 9.
“If you have been ordered to evacuate, you need to leave now,” he said at a morning news conference. “Do not wait. Evacuate. Not tonight, not in an hour. You need to go right now.”
But some people were ignoring those warnings.
Photos and live video from the U.S.’s southernmost Webcam show Floridians at a tourist spot in the Florida Keys, snapping photos of the weather instead of fleeing.
A man can be seen from the footage getting knocked over by a wave that hurls over a barrier as he took photos on Saturday.
He was standing on top of the barrier to get a good view of the tumultuous waters before he got smashed by the wave. The force of the wave pushed him to the ground.
But immediately after the man can be seen standing up and walking away calmly.
Irma was a Category 4 hurricane raging in the lower Florida Keys as of 9 a.m. EDT on a path that will take it up Florida’s Gulf of Mexico coast near population centers including Tampa and St. Petersburg, the National Hurricane Center reported. Forecasters also warned tornadoes could form in large portions of the state.
The Key West National Weather Service on Sunday tweeted more warnings to Floridians.
“Extreme, hurricane-force winds are imminent in the Lower #FLKeys. If you are here, please go to interior room away from windows!” the service said on Sept. 10.
The National Weather Service also warned residents in the Florida Keys, not to go outside and if indoors to stay away from windows. They said that the “worst is yet to come” in another tweet.
The National Hurricane Center forecast potentially deadly storm —water driven ashore by the winds—of up to 15 feet along some parts of the coast.
As the northern edge of the storm reached the Florida Keys archipelago off the tip of southern Florida, lashing rains and winds knocked out power to nearly 600,000 homes and businesses on the mainland, according to utilities.
Irma, which prompted one of the largest evacuations in U.S. history, is expected to cause billions of dollars in damage to the third-most-populous U.S. state, a major tourism hub, with an economy comprising about 5 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.
Reuters contributed to this report