Puerto Rico and other islands in the Lesser Antilles are preparing for Irma as it tracks dangerously close to the islands as a powerful Category 5 hurricane.
Some of the worst conditions will be felt in the British Virgin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, and St. Kitts and Nevis Tuesday night into Wednesday. The eye of Irma may even pass directly over some of the northernmost islands.
“We are expecting very rough and dangerous surf along with damaging tropical-storm-force and hurricane-force winds over the northern Leeward Islands, and tropical-storm-force winds over the southern Leewards to perhaps the northern Windward Islands, mostly in gusts,” AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.
A state of emergency has already been declared in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as residents brace for the storm.
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FEMA has already arrived in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to provide assistance with preparing for Irma and to support ongoing operations.
President Donald Trump has also approved Puerto Rico’s disaster declaration request. This will help the territory receive more funding and resources from the federal government because of Irma.
A 36-hour curfew is in effect for the entirety of the U.S. Virgin Islands, beginning at 6:00 a.m. local time on Wednesday. Multiple shelters will be open in St John, St. Thomas and St. Croix for people that need a place to stay as Irma impacts the island.
Gov. Ricardo Rossello of Puerto Rico has asked President Donald Trump for a declaration of emergency ahead of the arrival of Irma. If the request is granted, it would open up federal resources to Puerto Rico.
Gov. Kenneth Mapp of the U.S. Virgin Islands has also sent an emergency declaration request to the White House in preparation of Irma and its potentially devastating impacts on the islands.
Copy of the letter sent to @realdonaldtrump requesting a declaration of emergency for PR and FEMA resources in preparation for #Irma pic.twitter.com/EGnjU6CVah
— Ricardo Rossello (@ricardorossello) September 5, 2017
Commercial flights to and from the U.S. Virgin Islands have been canceled until further notice due to the approaching hurricane.
“To ensure everyone’s safety, the request for postponed scheduled visits to our islands remains in effect until Hurricane Irma passes,” the U.S. Virgin Islands Commissioner of Tourism said. http://www.usviupdate.com/