Millions of people, including thousands of Indian-Americans, in Florida braced for Hurricane Irma as it regained its strength as a category 4 storm and moved towards the coastal US state with wind speed of 209 km per hours.
About 120,000 Indian-Americans live in Florida, thousands of them residing in the now-dangerous zones of Miami, Fort Laura deal and even Tampa, according to 2010 census.
Many struggled to cope with Irma, which regained strength as a Category 4 storm as it moved towards Florida.
The deadly storm is expected to hit the US mainland around 7 am (local time). Its outer rain bands lashed the Florida Keys today, the National Weather Service said. A 127 kmph gust was recorded today as Irma drew closer, CNN reported.
Miami and Tampa appeared “ghost towns” as residents left for safer places following mandatory evacuation notices.
They were preparing to open more shelters and provide accommodation and food as several Indian businesses started contributing to relief efforts.
Sandeep Chakravorty, India’s consul-general in New York, was monitoring the situation through a 24X7-control room set up in Atlanta.
US President Donald Trump reviewed preparedness with his cabinet colleagues at Camp David in Maryland. He asked federal agencies to continue supporting state and local authorities and expedite assistance to areas affected by the hurricane.
“This is a storm of enormous destructive power, and I ask everyone in the storm’s path to pay heed to all instructions from government officials,” Trump said.
The US Army has so far deployed more than 7,400 soldiers and US Army Corps of Engineers civilians on the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the continental US.
The army has more than 140 aircraft, 650 trucks, 150 boats prepared, and additional resources on standby, the Pentagon said.
The current track of Irma will bring severe and life- threatening impacts to all of the Florida Keys and a large portion of the Florida Peninsula, including Key West, Key Largo, Tampa, Fort Myers, Naples, Sarasota and Miami.