Hurricane Irma has already cut power to nearly 25,000 people and Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned that those ordered to evacuate must “leave now.”
“The storm is here. Hurricane Irma is now impacting our state,” he said at a news conference. “If you’ve been ordered to evacuate, you need to leave now … not tonight, not in an hour, you need to go right now.”
The outer bands of the storm have began to affect the Florida Keys on Saturday, as well as create a strong surf in Miami.
The governor warned that those in evacuation areas should leave the state “right this minute.”
“It’s going to be very difficult to survive this if you’re in the Keys,” he said during an interview with The Weather Channel on Saturday morning. “I’m begging you to get out.”
As residents of the “sunshine state” departed, officials in Miami were taking no chances with the homeless population either, the Associated Press reported.
According to the Associated Press, the estimated 1,100 homeless people in Miami were directed to enter storm shelters, and were warned that they would be detained and receive a mental health evaluation if they refused.
“We’re going out and every single homeless person who is unwilling to come off the street, we are likely going to involuntarily Baker Act them,” Ron Book, chairman of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust, told the AP.
Hurricane Irma weakened slightly to a Category 4 storm early on Saturday, according to the US National Hurricane Center, after making landfall hours earlier in Cuba with maximum-strength Category 5 winds.