President Donald Trump on Wednesday said that he is watching the developments surrounding Hurricane Irma, which is now a category 5 storm, closely.
Irma is expected to reach the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Wednesday into early Thursday. The hurricane will reach the Bahamas and Cuba later this week and is expected to target parts of Florida this weekend.
“Watching Hurricane closely. My team, which has done, and is doing, such a good job in Texas, is already in Florida,” President Trump said in a tweet, adding “No rest for the weary!”
Hurricane Harvey which hit Texas and Louisiana last week has become the costliest natural disaster to hit the United States. At least 60 people have been killed as a result of the hurricane and its floodwaters, and the cost of the damage is expected to reach as high as $180 billion.
President Trump and his administration have been praised for their response to the hurricane. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the President and his team were in contact with him about ten days before Harvey hit and have stayed in close contact since. The president and the first lady have visited Texas twice in the aftermath of the storm.
Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said he has 700 emergency staffers deployed to Florida as the agency prepares for Irma while simultaneously dealing with the aftermath of Harvey.
“We forward deployed incident management teams, power teams, traditional life safety US&R teams, already in the state of Florida,” he told CBS This Morning. “Our staffing levels are coming up,” he said.
“There is a new and seems to be record-breaking hurricane heading right toward Florida and Puerto Rico and other places,” President Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday.
“We’ll see what happens. We’ll know in a very short period of time. But it looks like it could be something that will be not good. Believe me, not good,” he said.
Irma ranks as one of the five most powerful Atlantic hurricanes during the past 80 years and is the strongest Atlantic storm ever recorded outside the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC).
Although Irma’s precise trajectory remains to be seen, forecasters described the storm as “potentially catastrophic.”
On Tuesday, Sept. 5, President Trump signed an emergency declaration for the state of Florida.
The President “ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from Hurricane Irma beginning on September 4, 2017, and continuing,” according to the White House.
The declaration authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts.
Under the declaration FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide, at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impact of the emergency.
Mindful of the devastation wrought by Harvey days ago along the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana, Florida officials were taking no chances.
“Normally, people here don’t like to prepare,” said Gary Palmer, a 60-year-old deputy sheriff who visited a home supply store in Fort Lauderdale. “But what happened in Texas opened up everybody’s eyes.”
Authorities in the Florida Keys, the popular resort archipelago stretching from the southern tip of the state’s mainland peninsula, called for a mandatory evacuation of the islands’ visitors, starting at sunrise on Wednesday.
Roman Gastesi, the administrator of Monroe County, which includes the Keys, said a mandatory evacuation of residents there was likely at some point.
Reuters contributed to this report.