Hurricane Irma packing winds up to 250 km/h as it approaches Florida

Hurricane Irma packing winds up to 250 km/h as it approaches Florida

Officials say about 265 Canadians have reached out to the Canadian government for help as Hurricane Irma turns its force on Florida after cutting a path of destruction through the Caribbean.

While Hurricane Irma was downgraded to a Category 3 storm, it's expected to gain strength before making landfall tomorrow morning in Florida.

It remains a Category 5 storm, the highest designation by the National Hurricane Centre.

Rick Scott warned residents that Hurricane Irma could bring a potentially deadly storm surge when the storm passes along the state's west coast.

"This is your last chance to make a good decision", he added.

The Guardian also reports that every available Florida guardsman has been deployed, helping people find shelters and preparing for the aftermath of the storm. Governor Gus Jaspert has declared a state of emergency.

And there are fears that storm surges combined with high tide on Monday could overwhelm some low-lying areas.

Tampa may take a direct hit, its first brush with such a massive storm in almost a century, according to the Associated Press.

In Palm Beach, President Donald Trump's waterfront Mar-a-Lago estate was under evacuation order.

One of Havana's main hospitals, Hermanos Almejeiras, moved all patients to the sixth, seventh and eighth floors ahead of the storm surge, but did not plan to evacuate people. "We're going to have a hurricane here".

"We keep trying", Gastesi told CBS Friday. The White House released a video of his remarks.

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"This is a storm of enormous destructive power, and I ask everyone in the storm's path to heed all instructions, get out of its way... By now it will be full of water", she said.

Irma was 175 miles south east of Key West, moving west at about 9 mph, the hurricane center said. More than a million people were affected by it.

"It's not too late to get off the Keys!" the agency said.

Tens of thousands of people have joined an event advertised on Facebook to tackle the hurricane now bearing down on Florida, in an attempt to "show Irma that we shoot first".

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"FEMA's got a reservist workforce that we call into action when we need them".

Officials across Florida, meanwhile, opened shelters for people who chose not to leave town. Scott told all Floridians to be prepared in case they needed to leave. At least 23 people have been killed in the Caribbean as a result of the hurricane. The island is now "unreachable", because of the devastation dealt to the airport and the harbor, said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne estimates reconstruction will cost $100m (£80m).

Irma was set to hit the United States two weeks after Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm, struck Texas, killing about 60 people and causing property damage estimated at up to $180 billion in Texas and Louisiana.

Residents of Barbuda, where 95% of buildings have been destroyed by Irma, have now left the island as Jose approaches.

In Cuba, more than a million people were evacuated as a precaution, authorities said.

Two U.S. Navy ships were expected to arrive on the Virgin Islands Friday, and French, British and Dutch rescuers also sent rescuers to their territories.