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Hurricane Irma

Florida Gov. Rick Scott urges residents in evacuation zones to leave "right now"


Updated September 09, 2017 03:28 PM EDT

Florida Gov. Rick Scott urged residents in evacuation zones throughout the state to leave immediately at a press conference Saturday evening as Hurricane Irma approaches Florida.

"If you have been ordered to evacuate you need to leave now," he said. "Protecting life is our absolute top priority."

More than 6.5 million Floridians had been ordered to evacuate, according to the governor.

"If you know someone who is not evacuating please contact them now," he continued. "Everyone in Florida needs to find a safe place to go."

"I am still praying that we do not lose lives," he said. "But I ask that everyone be patient."

Irma is expected to reach the Florida Keys by Sunday morning and is expected to move along the southwest coast of Florida Sunday afternoon. The Florida Keys could see storm surge between 10-12 feet.

President Trump and his Cabinet members were briefed on Hurricane Irma early Saturday afternoon at Camp David.

"We're prepared," President Trump said to reporters Saturday. "We're as prepared as you can be for such an event."

The president called the Category 3 storm "a storm of enormous destructive power" on Twitter.

Updated September 09, 2017 02:09 PM EDT

The National Hurricane Center placed Georgia under a hurricane watch Saturday, as the state braces for the potential impacts from Hurricane Irma.

A hurricane watch was also issued for the South Carolina coast from the Georgia line to Edisto Beach.

Irma's center is expected to reach Georgia on Monday.

Hurricane Irma is currently lingering over the north coast of Cuba, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm already damaged crops in the eastern part of Cuba, where the agricultural industry was already declining.

Updated September 09, 2017 11:29 AM EDT

Hurricane Irma is now a Category 3 storm with maximum sustained winds near 125 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm, however, is expected to restrengthen once it moves away from Cuba and makes landfall in Florida.

Updated September 09, 2017 09:44 AM EDT

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said shelters have been set up in every county except the Florida Keys. Those evacuees have been directed to take shelter in Miami-Dade County instead.

"The storm is here... This is a deadly storm and our state has never seen anything like it," Scott said in a press conference. So far, Scott said 50,000 Floridians have flocked to shelters ahead of Irma's landfall.

"If you have been ordered to evacuate, you need to leave now," Scott emphasized. "Do not wait. Evacuate. Not tonight, not in an hour. You need to go right now. If you’re in an evacuation zone, leave!”

Scott said at least 70 more shelters will be opening today, in addition to the 260 already in place. School buses are working to help evacuate people in Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. Florida Keys residents who need assistance evacuating have been asked to call the transportation hotline at 305-517-2480.

The governor also put out a call for volunteer nurses who are willing to help out at shelters.

Updated September 09, 2017 09:33 AM EDT

Here's a look at Palm Beach County, Florida, ahead of Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Irma briefly restrengthened to a Category 5 storm Friday night as it made landfall in Cuba, but weakened to a Category 4 by Saturday.

Hurricane Irma ripped through Cuba and is expected to restrengthen as it roars toward Florida

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Saturday morning that Irma currently has maximum sustained winds of 130 mph, but is expected to pick up strength as it moves toward Florida.

The storm is currently about 225 miles south of Miami and meteorologists say Irma's outer bands have started to arrive in South Florida, bringing damaging winds with gusts up to 60 mph. Miami-Dade County already has 24,000 power outages as of 8 a.m. Saturday, according to our affiliate WPEC.

Hurricane Irma is expected to reach the Florida Keys on Sunday morning before moving up the state's Gulf Coast. Meteorologist Daniel Manzo tweeted saying the storm's track has shifted slightly west, creating a "very dangerous with situation for western Florida cities."

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is set to hold a news conference at 9:15 a.m. to give an update on emergency preparations. About 5.6 million people in Florida have been ordered to evacuate to get out of the storm's path. Authorities have opened up hundreds of shelters for those who didn't heed the warnings of forecasters and the government.

"If you are planning to leave and do not leave tonight, you will have to ride out this extremely dangerous storm at your own risk," Scott said Friday.

Hurricane Irma is wider than the state of Florida and stronger than Hurricane Andrew, which devastated the state in 1992. Only three other hurricanes have made landfall in the US mainland as category 5 storms.

The storm has killed at least 20 people in the Caribbean and left thousands homeless.

Miami Beach Hurricane Irma Live Stream

The Associated Press and our affiliate WPEC contributed to this report.

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