Governor of Florida Rick Scott said in a briefing that South East Florida is already experiencing tropical-storm-like force winds and nearly 25,000 people throughout the state have already lost power.
“Hurricane Irma is beginning to batter the Florida Keys with dangerous winds and continues to remain a catastrophic and life threatening category 4 storm with winds of 130 mph,” Scott said.
“This is a deadly storm. And our state has never seen anything like it.”
Hurricane Irma is a deadly Atlantic Category 4 storm that touched down in the Caribbean islands this week, with Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, St. Martin and St. Barts feeling the full brunt of the storm.
The hurricane, which has swayed back and forth between Category 4 and 5, then made landfall in Cuba at around midnight Friday, forcing over one million Cubans to evacuate. Irma is expected to hit Florida early Sunday, causing major damage due to high winds and flooding to the fourth-largest U.S. state by population.
The governor went on to warn Floridians of the potential for significant storm surge of between six and 12 feet as a result of the storm.
“This will cover your house. If you’ve ever watched how storm surge works it flows in fast, very fast, then it flows out. You will not survive all this storm surge,” Scott warned.
He concluded the briefing by warning Floridians that if they’ve received an evacuation order, there is no time to waste.
“This is a life-threatening situation. If you have been ordered to evacuate you need to leave now,” he said.
Parts of Florida have already received tornado warnings as the storm encroaches on the Gulf Coast. Scott said that while traffic is moving on evacuation routes, there is still congestion in some areas. He stated that “evacuations are not meant to be convenient, they’re meant to be safe.”
In addition, the Guardian reports that over 260 homeless shelters are open across the state and 70 additional shelters are set to open before end of day on Saturday. While the state is trying to keep gas stations open, the state’s ports are already closed and will be cut off within a few hours.
READ MORE: LIVE UPDATES: Tracking Hurricane Irma’s path
The Guardian also reports that every available Florida guardsman has been deployed, helping people find shelters and preparing for the aftermath of the storm. Scott also put out a call for 1,000 volunteer nurses for special needs shelters.
“Do not wait, evacuate. Not tonight, not in an hour, you need to go right now. If you’re in an evacuation zone, leave.”