Weather experts are standing firm in their prediction that Hurricane Irma could be one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded, which has forced the United States Navy to evacuate thousands of personnel.
In preparation for the Category 5 storm already being dubbed as the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history, more than 5,000 active personnel, families and civilians stationed at Naval Air Station Key West are being evacuated.
Navy spokesman Bill Dougherty said the commander of the U.S. Navy Region Southeast has ordered the “mandatory evacuation of non-essential personnel and dependents from NAS Key West to safe haven within 300 miles of Atlanta, Georgia.”
Irma has been upgraded to a Category 5 storm with sustained winds of 185 mph, and is expected to make landfall in Florida by either late Sunday or early Monday, at which point it is expected to have been downgraded to a Category 4 storm.
Department of Defense spokesman Maj. Ben Sakrisson indicated earlier this week that safety measures have been put in place to protect the 41 current terrorists detained at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
“Joint Task Force Guantanamo is closely monitoring the progress of Irma and is taking appropriate measures to ensure the safety of the detainees. Plans and procedures are in place to ensure for the safety of the detainees throughout this event,” Sakrisson said.
President Donald Trump declared states of emergency earlier this week for Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as Irma approaches.
The declarations authorize federal funding for resources for shelters, evacuations and the mobilization of National Guard units to assist in recovery efforts.
“This will free up much needed federal funding and assistance as we prepare for Irma,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said, stressing that Trump has been there every step of the way to help Florida.
Scott made it clear Monday that Trump has “offered the full resources of the federal government as Floridians prepare for Hurricane Irma.”
Last month, Hurricane Harvey was quickly upgraded from a tropical storm to a hurricane. Catastrophic damage and flooding from Harvey has affected countless people across southeast Texas and parts of Louisiana.
Irma has drawn comparisons to Hurricane Andrew, the Category 5 hurricane that rocked Florida in 1992 that was labeled the “strongest hurricane in recorded history.”
Underestimating the power of Irma could be devastating, and following the lead of the Navy, people should seek safety by any means necessary.