With the arrival of what is potentially one of the most devastating storms to ever hit Florida, officials have set aside 3.2 million liters (0.85 million gallons) of water, filled 67 trailers with meals, and amassed 24,000 tarps. They also have asked the federal government to kick in 11 million meals and millions more liters (gallons) of water, plus nearly 700 cases of baby supplies.
When it is finally safe for emergency officials to fan out across the peninsula, they will find out whether that is enough.
Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys on Sunday morning with top sustained winds of 130 mph (215 kph). While the projected track showed Irma raking the state’s Gulf Coast, forecasters warned that the entire Florida peninsula — including the Miami metropolitan area of 6 million people — was in extreme danger from the monstrous storm, almost 400 miles (640 kilometers) wide. Nearly 7 million people in the Southeast were warned to get out of the storm’s path, including 6.4 million in Florida alone.
A weary Gov. Rick Scott, who has flown across the state during the past five days sounding the alarm bell ahead of landfall, acknowledged that it won’t be easy for residents in the days ahead. Florida has long dealt with hurricanes, including a stretch of eight hurricanes in two years while Jeb Bush was governor, but Irma’s wide reach has proved daunting.
More on Hurricane Irma
“I don’t think anybody alive today in this state has ever seen anything like this,” Scott said at the state’s emergency operations center when the first parts of the storm started to cross into the Florida Keys.
More than 1 million residents had already lost power by Sunday morning, and it could be days before officials can provide food and water to those struggling in the aftermath of the powerful storm.
Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Brock Long said Hurricane Irma is going to pose challenges for first responders.
Speaking on “Fox News Sunday” as Irma began its assault on Florida on Sunday morning, Long called the storm a “complex event” in particular because of its movement from the southern part of the state to the north.
“The power’s going to be out for a long time. It’s going to be tough for us to get in to perform search and rescue in South Florida. We have to wait till all the elements pass through,” he said. “Once this system passes through…