Devastation of Hurricane Irma

'We can't save you': Hurricane Irma heads to Florida

HOMELESS people in Miami who refuse to seek shelter ahead of Hurricane Irma will be involuntarily committed to a psychiatric ward, authorities have warned, as the deadly storm approaches the US.

The Florida city is expected to take a direct hit from the Category 5 hurricane, which has already killed at least 10 people and caused widespread devastation in the Caribbean.

Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust chairman Ron Book said outreach teams would work with police starting on Friday to commit homeless people who did not seek shelter.

"They are a danger to themselves," Mr Book told the Miami Herald.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has ordered all public schools, state colleges, universities and offices to close between Friday and Monday as the state braces for the arrival of the record-breaking Hurricane Irma.

There is a mandatory evacuation order in place for the Florida Keys and that includes law enforcement. Florida Governor Rick Scott on Thursday urged people to leave ahead of Irma's arrival.

"Do not try to ride out this storm," he warned residents. "We can't save you once the storm hits."

US President Donald Trump has also tweeted, encouraging everyone to follow the advice and orders of local officials.

The hurricane is currently pommeling the Turks and Caicos islands after devastating a string of Caribbean islands.

Earlier it roared past the Dominican Republic toward Haiti and it's now headed toward Cuba and the Florida.

Authorities in the US Virgin Islands say three people died in the St Thomas and St Johns district after Irma caused what they described as "catastrophic" damage.

 

The expected path of Hurricane Irma. Picture: Fox NewsSource:Supplied
The expected path of Hurricane Irma. Picture: Fox NewsSource:Supplied

Irma also killed four people and injured about 50 on the French side of St Martin, an island split between Dutch and French control. An official told the New York Times, 95 per cent of the island was destroyed.

A two-year-old child was one of three people who died on the British island of Anguilla, independent Barbuda and the Dutch side of St Martin, known as Sint Maarten.

Thousands more have been left homeless as the strongest Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever destroyed trees and buildings, leaving islands isolated.

The huge storm has seen gusts of up to 360km/h and has become one of the longest storms in history to retain the power of a Category 5.

Irma has broken records after sustaining 185mp/h (297km/h) winds for 37 hours - the longest any tropical cyclone around the world has maintained that intensity.

Colorado State University hurricane expert Phil Klotzbach said it broke the previous record, held by Typhoon Haiyan, which had similar top winds for 24 hours before it hit the Philippines and killed 6,000 people in 2013.

Irma also has been the most intense Atlantic hurricane on record outside the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, measured by its barometric pressure of 914 millibars.

According to the US National Hurricane Centre (NHC), winds have decreased slightly to 280km/h and Irma is expected to be downgraded to a Category 4 by the time it hits Florida on Sunday.

Irma's eye is expected to travel between Hispaniola and the Turks and Caicos Islands, and will then move between the north coast of Cuba and the Bahamas during the next day or two.

Hurricane conditions are expected to continue in the Dominican Republic and Haiti tonight and will spread to the Bahamas by early Friday (local time).

Cuba will be impacted by storm conditions by late Friday and Saturday, and many of the 51,000 tourists on the island have already been evacuated.

Cuban Tourism Minster Manuel Marrero said Canada had evacuated all the Canadian tourists in the country, who made up an estimated 60 per cent of Cuba's tourists, according to ABC.

Evacuation orders are also in place for US residents in the Florida Keys, and are expected to be issued for parts of South Carolina and Georgia.

Category 5 'nuclear' Hurricane rips through Caribbean

AT LEAST 10 people have died in "nuclear" Hurricane Irma as the Category 5 storm continues to rip through the Caribbean towards Florida.

One person has died in Anguilla, along with a two-year-old child in Barbuda who was killed when a family tried to escape the storm. France's Interior Minister said at least eight died and 23 were injured in the French Caribbean island territories of St. Martin and St. Barthelemy.

Thousands more have been left homeless as the strongest Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever destroyed trees and buildings, leaving islands isolated.

Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees.
Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. AAP

The huge storm has seen gusts of up to 360km/h and has become one of the longest storms in history to retain the power of a Category 5.

Winds have decreased slightly to 280km/h and it is expected to be downgraded to a Category 4 by the time it hits Florida, according to the US National Hurricane Centre.

Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees.
Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. AAP

Shocking aerial photos show the path of destruction Irma has left in its wake. Authorities are scrambling to access the remote islands with many remaining isolated without power and proper communication.

UNICEF Haiti's chief of communications Cornelia Walther said the storm is "far stronger" than Hurricane Matthew that smashed the island last year.
"Listening to the rain drumming over my head I think of those families who live in makeshift homes that barely stand straight in normal weather. What will their lives look like in 48 hours," she said from the island.

 

'LIFE THREATENING'

The US Hurricane Centre said Irma will bring "life threatening" wind, rain and storm surge to the Turks and Caicos Islands and Bahamas over the next two days. A hurricane watch is also in effect for Cuba and Florida.

Barbuda has been described as "barely habitable" with more than 90 per cent of dwellings completely destroyed, a child killed and 60 per cent of the population left homeless.

Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees.
Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. AAP

US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) chief Brock Long told CNN the Hurricane will be "truly devastating" when it his the southern coast of the country.

"The majority of people along the coast have never experienced a major hurricane like this. It will be truly devastating," he said.
Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine said anyone left in the area "must leave."

"This storm will envelope us whether it is off shore or on shore. It won't make a difference," Mayor Levine told CBS4.

"I'll do anything in my power to convince [people] this is a very serious storm. This is a nuclear hurricane. They should leave the beach, they must leave the beach," he said.

"This could easily be the most costly storm in U.S. history, which is saying a lot considering what just happened two weeks ago," said Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami, alluding to the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey.

Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees.
Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. AAP



INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE

Emergency services and aid agencies have gone into overdrive to prepare for the event and clean up in its aftermath.

The UK is sending a military vessel to assist those in islands hit as well as £12 million in government aid after the Hurricane did "critical damage" to the UK territory of Anguilla.

Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees.
Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. AAP

Junior Foreign Minister Alan Duncan said the country is "pulling out all the stops to make sure that we can do our utmost to bring urgent assistance.

Foreign Minister Boris Johnson reaffirmed the UK's commitment to respond to the "catastrophic damage" caused by Irma.

"What we will be doing now is making an urgent assessment of the further needs of communities in the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla to see what more can be done in terms of financial and humanitarian assistance," he added.

Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees.
Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. AAP

 

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the storm did damage of "epic proportions" to Dutch territory and left "widescale destruction."

"There is no power, no gasoline, no running water. Houses are under water, cars are floating through the streets, inhabitants are sitting in the dark, in ruined houses and are cut off from the outside world," he said. The Dutch military is also sending two aircraft to co-ordinate aid drops.

Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees.
Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. AAP

President Trump tweeted that the US has "great teams of talented and brave people already in place and ready to help."

Australians due to travel to the region have been advised to contact the Smart Traveller website.

News Corp Australia


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