Broward County is ordering mandatory evacuations for people who live east of Federal Highway and on barrier islands starting at noon on Thursday, Mayor Barbara Sharief said Wednesday morning.
In a press conference at the county Governmental Center in Fort Lauderdale, Sharief said the county will open 14 shelters for those in the evacuation zones. All other county operations will be closed.
“This storm will have significant impacts to South Florida,” said Sheriff Scott Israel, urging residents in the applicable areas to consider leaving and quickly. Deputies will stop responding in the evacuation zones when sustained winds surpass 45 mph, he said. “We’re not going to knock on doors. We’re not arresting people and we’re not pulling people out of their homes. We’re asking you to leave so you don’t become a victim.”
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Sharief urged residents leaving the evacuation zones to first try and take shelter with friends in safer areas as quickly as possible. She also urged employers to give their employees enough time to prepare for the storm.
Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Caribbean early Wednesday morning, and projected paths indicate South Florida is likely to be hit.