MIAMI - A mandatory evacuation will go into effect at noon Thursday for a portion of Broward County, including those who live in mobile homes or in low-lying areas.
Based on recent forecasts, the US Army Corps has been reviewing how the federally operated Herbert Hoover Dike will be impacted.
Governor Scott spoke to Col. Jason Kirk with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today and the Corps. believes there will be additional impacts from excessive wind pushing some water over the Dike. While they have assured the Governor that the structural integrity of the Dike will not be compromised, Governor Scott has ordered voluntary evacuations beginning immediately in the cities surrounding the southern half of Lake Okeechobee from Lake Port to Canal Point in Hendry, Palm Beach and Glades counties.
Mandatory evacuations will be put in place for these communities beginning tomorrow morning. Information regarding transportation and sheltering will be released tomorrow morning.
This decision was made due to Governor Scott’s sole focus on life safety as Hurricane Irma approaches Florida.
Neighboring Broward County was coordinating plans for 43 shelters that can accommodate up to 33,000 people, county Mayor Barbara Sharief told reporters. Sheltering operations were expected to begin on Thursday, she said.
Evacuation orders have been issued for the following areas:
- South Bay
- Lake Harbor
- Moore Haven
- Belle Glade
- Canal Point
- Brevard – mandatory evacuations for Zone A, Merritt Island, barrier islands, and some low-lying mainland areas along Indian River Lagoon
- Broward – mandatory East of Federal Highway including barrier islands
- Charlotte – voluntary evacuations for Don Pedro Island, Knight Island (Palm Island), Little Gasparilla Island, Manosota Key, all mobile homes
- Citrus – mandatory evacuations for residents west of Hwy 19, 1 and ½ miles east of Hwy 19 excluding Sugarmill Woods. This also includes all of the city of Crystal River, all low lying areas throughout the entire county and anyone residing in mobile homes, manufactured homes and all unsafe structures throughout the entire county
- Collier – mandatory evacuations for Goodland, Everglades City, Chokoloskee, all mobile homes
- Desoto- voluntary evacuations for people in low-lying/flood prone areas, residents living in mobile homes and RV parks
- Flagler – mandatory evacuations for nursing homes, all varieties of assisted living facilities, and community residential group homes within coastal and Intracoastal areas and voluntary for zones A, B, C, F; mandatory for Zones A,B,C,F, and substandard housing beginning on Saturday
- Glades – mandatory evacuations for areas around Lake Okeechobee (Lakeport, Moorehaven, Washington Park, Benbow and Uncle Joe’s Motel and Campground). Also mandatory for residents in Zone A and anyone in an RV park, mobile home or building constructed before 1992.
- Hardee – voluntary evacuations for low-lying areas, mobile homes, and port structures
- Hendry – voluntary evacuations for low-lying areas, non-slab-built homes, mobile homes, trailers and RVs, mandatory for areas near Lake Okeechobee (Clewiston, Hookers Point, Harlem, Flaghole, Montura Ranch Estates, Mid-County MSBU which inlcudes Ladeca, Pioneer Plantation and Leon-Dennis Subdivision, Al Don Farming Road)
- Hernando – mandatory evacuations for Zones A and B and mobile homes
- Highlands – voluntary for low areas and mobile/manufactured homes
- Hillsborough – voluntary for special-needs residents in Evacuation Zone A.
- Indian River – voluntary evacuations for barrier islands, low-lying areas, mandatory for Saturday
- Lee – mandatory for Cape Coral west of Burnt Store Road and south of Cape Coral Parkway, east of Del Prado Boulevard to Viscaya Parkway, North Fort Myers south of Bay Shore Road from Moody Road to State Road 31 and areas south of North River Road from State Road 31 to Fichters Creek, areas of Iona south of Maple Drive, west of U.S. 41, San Carlos Park west of U.S. 41, Estero west of U.S. 41, north of the Estero River, Bonita Springs communities along Estero Bay and the Imperial River Basin, all of the barrier islands.
- Manatee – voluntary evacuations for Zone A and mobile homes.
- Martin – mandatory evacuations for barrier islands, manufactured homes, and low-lying areas beginning Saturday
- Miami-Dade – mandatory evacuations for all of Zone A, all of Zone B, and portions of Zone C. Miami Dade residents can find their zones by clicking HERE.
- Monroe – mandatory evacuations for visitors and residents. A dedicated transportation hotline is available specifically for individuals in the Keys at 305-517-2480
- Pasco – mandatory evacuations for residents living west of U.S. 19. Also mandatory for residents living north of Fox Hollow Drive west of Little Rd. and south of Fox Hollow Drive west of Regency Park Blvd./Rowan Rd./Seven Springs Blvd. Special needs residents, and those living in manufactured homes, mobile homes, RV’s, and anyone living in a low-lying area or an area prone to flooding are also under mandatory evacuation. Voluntary evacuations for residents living south of Fox Hollow Drive to the south county line between Regency Park Blvd./Rowan Rd./Seven Springs Blvd. and Little Rd.
- Palm Beach – mandatory evacuations for Zone A and B, voluntary for Zone C and Lake Zone E (Canal Point, Belle Glade, and Pahokee)
- Pinellas – mandatory evacuations all mobile home and Zone A
- Sarasota – voluntary evacuations in Zone A (Longboat, Lido, Siesta, Casey Key, Manasota Key, Venice Island), all mobile homes
- St. Lucie – mandatory north and south Hutchinson Island, low-lying areas, manufactured homes
- Additional evacuations are expected throughout the state. All Floridians should pay close attention to local alerts and follow the directions of local officials.
Andrew was a monster; Irma could blow it out of the water
For an entire generation in South Florida, Hurricane Andrew was the monster storm that reshaped a region. Irma is likely to blow that out of the water.
Bigger and with a 90-degree different path of potential destruction, Irma is forecast to hit lots more people and buildings than 1992's Andrew, said experts, including veterans of Andrew.
At the time, Andrew was the costliest hurricane in U.S. history with damages of $26.5 billion in 1992 dollars (about $50 billion in current dollars), according to the National Weather Service.
"The effect of Irma on the state of Florida is going to be much greater than Andrew's effect," said Weather Channel senior hurricane specialist Bryan Norcross, who was a local television meteorologist hailed as a hero during Andrew. "We're dealing with an entirely different level of phenomenon. There is no storm to compare with this. Unless you go way back to 1926."
Kate Hale, Miami-Dade's emergency management chief -- who grabbed national attention during Andrew by beseeching "where the hell is the cavalry on this one?" -- said by nearly every measure Irma looks far worse.
"Nobody can make this up. This storm. This track at this point," Hale told The Associated Press on Thursday. Between Hurricane Harvey's record weeklong flooding, devastating Western wildfires and Irma, which was nearing record-levels for the longest time at Category 5 strength, she called the effects on the national economy "potentially staggering."
Both Andrew and Irma started as wisps of unstable weather off Africa and chugged across the Atlantic as ever-intensifying Cape Verde storms. And while they may both end up in the same general area, meteorologists said that's where the similarities disappear.
Andrew a quarter century ago was an unusually compact major storm that roared east-to-west almost in a straight line and hit just south of the core of Miami. Months after its August 23, 1992, landfall, meteorologists upgraded it to a Category 5 hurricane with 167 mph (268 kph) winds at one point and 17-foot (5-meter) storm surge in another. The storm killed 65 people, according to the National Hurricane Center's report.
Andrew's hurricane force winds were only about 30 miles (50 kilometers) wide and so was its swath of utter destruction.
It was like "an incredible buzz saw giant tornado of a hurricane that hit metropolitan Southeast Florida," Norcross said. Yet outside that area damage was minimal, more like a Category 1 storm.
And the place it hit with its massive winds was on the southern tip of Dade County and any place else would have caused far more damage, Norcross and Hale said.
"As bad as it was, it was as good as it could have been," Norcross said.
Andrew's path also took it straight out of South Florida at relatively high speeds of about 18 mph (29 kph).
The National Hurricane Center's forecast path for Irma is from the south, hitting Miami and perhaps its highly developed and expensive central region, then up through affluent Broward and Palm Beach counties and further north, threatening the entire peninsula instead of just its tip.
For disaster officials trying to rescue people and clean up, that's a big difference.
"Everything north of us was functioning and safe," said Hale, now an emergency manager in Virginia. "This time everything north of them is going to be in bad shape as well."
Andrew intensified to a Category 5 hurricane just before hitting land, while Irma has been a Category 5 storm for days and is forecast to fluctuate in intensity in the next couple days and could hit as a strong Category 4. But forecasts of a weakening storm are somewhat iffy, meteorologists said.
Another huge factor is Andrew was so small, while Irma is already a normal size storm and likely to grow bigger with up to 100 miles (160 kilometers) wide of Category 5 hurricane force winds, triple Andrew's girth, according to Jeff Masters, meteorology director at the private Weather Underground.
Irma "is going over a much bigger population," Masters said. "Andrew missed like four-fifths of the Miami-Dade population centers."
About 1.9 million people lived in Miami-Dade County when Andrew hit. Now about 6 million people live in South Florida's three counties and another 4 million people live in threatened Orlando and Jacksonville.
Irma's forecast track keeps shifting, Thursday afternoon's track puts Irma's power -- the northeast quadrant -- over Miami and later Jacksonville with the storm directly over Orlando. However the margin of error is still so big it encompasses the entire Florida peninsula.
Hurricane Irma's confirmed death toll up to 22
The death toll from Hurricane Irma has risen to 22 as the storm continues its destructive path through the Caribbean.
The dead include 11 on St. Martin and St. Barts, four in the U.S. Virgin Islands and four in the British Virgin Islands. There was also one each in Barbuda, Anguilla, and Barbados.
The toll is expected to rise as rescuers reach some of the hardest-hit areas.
Irma weakened from a Category 5 to a still-fearsome Category 4 on Friday morning with winds of 155 mph (250 kph) as it churns along Cuba's northern coast.
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