With all of Florida, and several southeastern U.S. states in the path of what has been forecast as one of the most devastating hurricanes to make landfall in U.S. history, everyone is on edge. Photos of Florida preparing for Irma show the panic this hurricane has caused as millions attempt to evacuate, and thousands of others work to secure their property. With Irma's strength and path in near constant fluctuation, residents who previously thought they would be spared the worst of Irma's wrath now appear to be her target, causing people to make last minute preparations.
"We thought we were safe," a spokeswoman for Collier County in southwest Florida, who declined to give her name because she was not authorized to discuss the situation, told The New York Times. "We thought we were safe like 36 hours ago."
Irma made landfall in Cuba Sept. 8 as a category 5 storm, the first of that size to hit the country since 1924. While the monstrous storm was downgraded to Category 3 on Sept. 9, with winds of about 125 mph, its path through warm waters as it chugs toward Florida will likely strengthen Irma before she hit Florida's west coast, the Times reported.
Residents of southwest Florida, many of whom thought they were safe riding out the hurricane at home, flocked to shelters as Irma's projected path shifted overnight. While Irma is being billed as being one of the most catastrophic storms to ever hit the U.S., other natural disasters occurring consecutively, and concurrently, may have people more panicked than usual, The Washington Post reported.
Irma follows Harvey, which rattled the nation’s fourth-largest city with record rains and devastating flooding. Wildfires are raging out west. Mexico’s biggest earthquake in a century killed dozens this week. Hurricane Jose is nearing Category 5 status and is taking aim at the same Caribbean islands Irma just flattened.
Coupled with Trump in the White House, it's not hard to see why some people are seeing recent events through an apocalyptic lens.
Evacuees wait to enter the Germain Arena in southwest Florida that is serving as a shelter from the approaching Hurricane Irma. Current tracks for Hurricane Irma shows that it will hit Florida's west coast on Sunday.
Having trouble finding a hotel room, members of the Watson family, of St. Petersburg, debate a passing motorist's offer to take in their dogs as they wait on the side of the road and weigh their options while attempting to evacuate the area ahead of Hurricane Irma in Tampa, Florida.
Freeways remained clogged, despite all lanes being northbound only, as millions of Floridians attempt to leave ahead of Irma's unwelcome arrival.
There has been little break in traffic for those attempting to escape the path of Irma.
A dollar store closed in Florida after anxious customers' behavior caused problems.
One store imposed a limit on how much water each customer could purchase in attempt to stretch the supply.
The rush for emergency supplies emptied many store shelves ahead of Irma's arrival, predicted for Sunday.
Lines to get gas in some areas in Irma's path were hours long.
Airports were as clogged as freeways as thousands of people tried to get a flight to anywhere before Hurricane Irma makes landfall Sunday.
Some folks kept their sense of humor, like the people in North Carolina who made this portable toilet from a bucket, and a swim noodle.
On the heels of Hurricane Harvey, the memories from Hurricane Katrina burned into their brains, and weather reporters emphasizing the catastrophic nature of Irma, it's easy to understand why people are feeling anxious. The window to evacuate has passed for many people in the storm's path.
"The storm is here," Florida Gov. Rick Scott said at a 9:30 a.m. press conference Saturday. "Southeast Florida is already experiencing tropical storm force winds, and nearly 25,000 people have already lost power. This is a deadly storm, and our state has never seen anything like it. Millions of Floridians will see major hurricane impacts with deadly storm surge and life-threatening winds."
Those riding out the storm at home should have a well stocked disaster kit within reach.