Israeli Foreign Ministry officials decided after an emergency meeting on Thursday to evacuate their emissaries and families in South Florida as Hurricane Irma bears down on the state, heading straight for the coast.
The Israel Consulate in Miami is now closed, and will remain closed until further notice. The Ministry is calling on all Israelis in the area to follow the instructions of local authorities, and act accordingly.
In any emergency related to the storm and its damage, Israelis in South Florida will be able to contact the emergency numbers of the Israel Consulate.
These are as follows:
1-305-469-4466 and 1-786-663-3780.
Eight people have been killed by Irma so far, after the storm destroyed three Caribbean islands, bashed Puerto Rico.
Hurricane Irma is now about 600 miles wide and packing 185 mph winds It’s heading straight for Florida, but actually is wider than the entire state. It will affect the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station and the S. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant slightly to its north. The cities of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach — the location of America’s second largest Jewish community — lie in between the two.
By 5 pm Thursday, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency for the state “as a precaution,” he said. “And that’s probably not a bad idea,” commented meteorologist Ari Sarsalari in a broadcast on The Weather Channel, noting that a hurricane alert is now up for the states of Georgia and South Carolina as well.
Forecasters are saying Irma is likely to be more destructive than was Hurricane Andrew, which struck on August 24, 1992, caused more than $26 billion in damage (at that time) and in which 61 people lost their lives.
The metropolitan Miami area, Fort Lauderdale and more tony West Palm Beach in South Florida now is home to more than 2.7 million homes along its 1,350 miles of coastline, according to a 2017 report by CoreLogic, Inc., a financial and property data analytics firm.
Like Andrew, Hurricane Irma is classified as a Category 5 hurricane. Andrew leveled entire blocks of homes. In response, local and state officials revised building codes to use stronger roofing materials and impact-resistant windows in certain areas. The requirements for the amount of wind pressure that homes must be able to stand, also changed, and building plan inspections were scrutinized more carefully as well.
Florida’s new codes will get a real trial by fire this time.
As Irma makes landfall in Florida, forecasters are watching another hurricane now moving towards the United States – Hurricane Jose – currently about 715 miles east of the Lesser Antillies, packing maximum sustained winds of approximately 90 miles per hour with higher gusts, and moving west-northwest at 18 miles per hour.
As a result, a second hurricane watch is in effect for Antigua and Barbuda, which are just recovering their senses from Hurricane Irma, with a Tropical Storm Watch in effect for Anguilla, Montserrat, S. Kitts, Nevis, Saba and S. Eustatius.