SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The latest on Hurricane Irma (all times local):
Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis says his government has ordered a mandatory evacuation of islands in the southern part of the island chain because of Hurricane Irma.
Minnis says the Category 5 storm poses a dire threat to the islands of Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay and Ragged Island.
People who live on the islands will be flown Wednesday to Nassau on the island of New Providence. Minnis says it will be the largest hurricane evacuation in the history of the Bahamas.
People who don’t evacuate will be at “great danger” from storm surge caused by what he called a “monster” hurricane. Minnis says emergency personnel may not be available to rescue them when the storm is at its height between Thursday and Friday.
President Donald Trump has declared emergencies in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as Hurricane Irma prepares for landfall.
The declarations authorize the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts in those places.
The dangerous Category 5 storm is wielding the most powerful winds ever recorded for a storm in the Atlantic Ocean. It is on a path that could take it toward Florida over the weekend.
Irma’s size and strength put the entire state on notice Tuesday. Residents and visitors prepared to leave in anticipation of catastrophic winds and floods.
Puerto Rico’s governor is also warning that the effects of Hurricane Irma could be catastrophic and calling the storm more dangerous than Hurricane Harvey.
Puerto Rico’s governor is warning that the effects of Hurricane Irma could be catastrophic, calling the storm more dangerous even than Hurricane Harvey, which recently devastated Houston.
Gov. Ricardo Rossello said Tuesday that the “dangerousness of this system” has never been seen in Puerto Rico.
In his words: “It is much more dangerous than Harvey. The results could be catastrophic and devastating.”
Rossello says the winds of the Category 5 storm will lash Culebra island around dawn Wednesday and move to Puerto Rico shortly afterward. He says the U.S. territory’s northeast coast will feel the brunt.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is releasing water from Florida’s Lake Okeechobee in preparation for Hurricane Irma’s expected arrival in the state this weekend.
Spokesman John Campbell said Tuesday the plan is to drain the lake for three days to drop its current level of almost 14 feet.
The corps says Irma could add a foot of water directly to the lake as it passes and then 3 feet of runoff in the coming weeks. The corps tries to keep the lake below 16 feet and worries about the stability of the Hoover Dike, which surrounds the lake, if it exceeds 18 feet.
Most of current dike was built in the 1960s. It averages 30 feet in height. Failures of the original embankments during hurricanes in 1926 and 1928 killed over 3,000 people when waters flooded neighboring towns. About 40,000 people live nearby today.
The dike has been undergoing a $1.7 billion improvement plan that should be finished in the mid-2020s.
People in the Florida Keys are putting up hurricane shutters and wooden boards on homes and businesses as powerful Hurricane Irma approaches the Caribbean on a path that could take it to the U.S. by the weekend.
Trucks are hauling away boats and people are packing in preparation for leaving. Houses in the Keys stand at sea level, with parts of the main road to the Florida mainland going dangerously low.
At a trailer park, Janet Roberts was getting ready Tuesday to head to her daughter’s house in Florida City on the mainland after officials ordered residents and tourists to evacuate the area.
Roberts says she is terrified, saying she lost everything when Hurricane Andrew hit south Florida in 1992. In her words, “This has Andrew beat. This is really bad, really, really, really bad.
Some small Caribbean islands are bracing for a big hit from Hurricane Irma.
Forecasters say those in the path of the Category 5 storm include tiny Anguilla as well as the islands of Barbuda and Anegada. All will be near or directly in the path of Irma.
Anguilla is British Island territory of about 15,000 people. It is a low-lying island known for its smooth sandy beaches.
Authorities are expecting the eye of Irma to pass directly over Anguilla early Wednesday.
Disaster Management agency Director Melissa Meade says Anguilla is expecting the full force of the storms with winds of 185 mph. They also expect storm surge and flooding.
Meade says four shelters are opening on the island Tuesday though people tend to stay with friends and family.
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