Today is the last chance for Florida residents to evacuate.
As Hurricane Irma approaches closer to the U.S. coastline, Florida residents must decide whether they are staying to face the storm or leaving to seek shelter in safer areas.
Over 650,000 residents in Miami-Dade County were ordered to evacuate. According to Miami Herald, the total number of residents ordered to flee hits the record for the largest evacuation ever attempted by the county.
“I’ve been here 60 years. I’ve never heard of this kind of evacuation,” Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, a former Miami fire chief, told reporters on Thursday, Sept. 7. “Certainly, during Hurricane Andrew there wasn’t this kind of evacuation, and we know we had these storm surges up to 17 feet. But these models are new. And this information is new.”
The county is the most populous in Florida reaching over 2.7 million residents according to 2016 data from the United States Census Bureau.
Gimenez announced updated evacuation orders on Thursday for residents in the county’s coast and other inland areas.
The evacuation order now covers zones A, B and parts of C in Miami-Dade, according to a tweet from Gimenez.
At a press conference on Thursday, Florida Governor Rick Scott said the state needs 17,000 more volunteers to prepare for the approaching storm.
Scott also ordered all public schools and universities to close as Irma continued to threaten the area.
“My order to close schools is effective Friday through Monday and includes all public K-12 schools, state colleges, and state universities,” Scott said in a tweet.
But Gimenez said while the evacuation order might save lives along the coast, it also risked stranding thousands of motorists in a storm with nowhere to go.
“The worst place to be in a hurricane is in your car, on an open road,” Gimenez told reporters on Thursday.
Just on Wednesday a mandatory evacuation was 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.
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 Wednesday. 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.