With Harvey’s havoc on their minds, Floridians brace for Irma

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PALM BEACH, Fla. - The Costco in Royal Palm Beach, Florida hadn't even opened yet, but already the line to get inside stretched around the parking lot.

"Good luck finding supplies for Hurricane Irma in So/Flo," Daniel Scroggins, who posted video of the scene, said Tuesday on Twitter.

With Hurricane Harvey's devastation fresh on their minds, Florida residents are scrambling for supplies and prepping for potential disaster ahead of Hurricane Irma, the powerful Category 5 storm churning towards the Caribbean.

With maximum sustained winds reaching 180 miles per hour, Irma is on track to hit the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico in the coming days. After that, the storm is expected to continue west and possibly hit South Florida or another part of the continental US.

"There is an increasing chance of seeing some impacts from Irma in the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys later this week and this weekend," the National Hurricane Center said on Tuesday morning.

The storm's exact path still remains unclear. But after seeing news reports about water and food shortages in Texas last week as Harvey blew through, Floridians want to be prepared.

Hurricane Irma has strengthened to a Category 5 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 175 mph, data from a hurricane-hunter aircraft show.

Runs on bottled water, hardware stores

The possibility of the storm led to a "mad run" on bottled water on Tuesday morning in Clearwater, Florida, according to resident Carrie Hart. She said that employees at a Publix supermarket tried to calm agitated shoppers after the store ran out of cases of water. She said the store expects to have more water tonight.

Another Publix in Davie, near Fort Lauderdale, posted a sign with bad news for any shoppers looking to buy water.

"Sorry!! No water at this time!" the sign read. "Waiting for deliveries. Estimated time of arrival is unknown!"

In Miami, Vanessa Mitchell posted a photo of a lengthy line stretching outside a Sam's Club.

Banks, too, saw a crush of people looking to withdraw cash. Miami resident Alex Batista said that a Chase Bank in Miami had long lines and no parking ahead of the storm.

"The banks are full of people getting money," Batista said. "It's crazy."

Still others flocked to Home Depot or other hardware stores in search of plywood, which can be used to board up windows.


Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for the entire state of Florida and called on residents to prep for the worst.

"Every family has got to get ready," he said Tuesday. "Three days of water per person, three days of food," as well as medicine, fuel, batteries, and more.

Monroe County, which includes Key West, issued a visitor evacuation order due to Hurricane Irma, according to Cammy Clark, a public information officer with its Office of Emergency Management.

"We want all visitors in the Keys to leave the Keys," Clark said.

On Twitter, Sen. Marco Rubio called on Florida residents to consider plans to evacuate, find shelter, secure their homes and obtain the needed medicines ahead of the coming storm.

"At a MINIMUM #Florida will feel strong impact of #HurricaneIrma later this week. We know what we need to do to get ready," he wrote.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush also took to Twitter to issue an all-caps warning about the hurricane.


"Florida is known for preparing and doing a great job with disasters," Scott added. "We have no idea what's in store. We'll have to pray for the best. The hope would be this thing will dissipate and just go out into the Atlantic, but we've got to prepare for the worst."

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