Michael Bastasch on September 5, 2017
President Donald Trump has issued emergency declarations for Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as Hurricane Irma makes its way towards across the South Atlantic.
Vice President Mike Pence tweeted out Trump’s emergency declarations Tuesday evening as Irma bears down on the Leeward Islands east of Puerto Rico.
— Vice President Pence (@VP) September 6, 2017
The emergency declarations allows Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials to coordinate relief efforts. FEMA is now empowered to mobilize resources for relief and direct federal assistance for disaster victims.
The governors of all three regions declared emergency disasters in preparation for Irma, which strengthened to a Category 5 storm Tuesday. Irma is expected to reach the Florida coast Sunday morning, moving over the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
The Weather Channel reports that “[b]ased on wind speed, Irma is the strongest Atlantic hurricane since Wilma in 2005 which also had maximum sustained winds of 185 mph.” Irma is the fifth Atlantic hurricane to have maximum sustained winds of more than 185 miles per hour.
GOP Florida Gov. Rick Scott tweeted Tuesday that Trump “offered the full resources of the federal government as Floridians prepare for Hurricane Irma.” Scott declared a state of emergency Tuesday.
Just spoke to @POTUS – he offered the full resources of the federal government as Floridians prepare for Hurricane Irma.
— Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) September 5, 2017
Florida officials ordered mandatory evacuations of Monroe and Miami-Dade Counties in preparation for Irma, which forecasters project will downgrade to a Category 4 storm with 140 mile per hour wind gusts by the time is reaches U.S. shores.
U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp signed an emergency order allowing the National Guard to seize private guns, ammunition, explosives and property deemed necessary to respond to Irma.