Around 5.6 million people have been told to leave as the storm approaches
Superstorm wind and heavy rain from Hurricane Irma’s outer bands began lashing Florida’s southern tip Saturday morning.
Irma hit the Sabana-Camaguey Archipelago late on Friday, threatening nearby coastal towns and villages.
According to Govt Rick Scott, in Florida around 5.6 million people, or 25% of the US state’s population, have been told to leave as the storm approaches.
It was the first category five hurricanes to hit Cuba in decades. It weakened to category four by Saturday morning but is expected to strengthen again as it approaches Florida.
Irma has been downgraded to a category four storm with maximum sustained winds of 155mph of after strengthening to a five on Friday night.
As other Florida residents flee north to escape the monstrous Hurricane Irma, Peggy Monahan has remained behind despite numerous warnings to leave.
But the winds are still forecast to bring dangerous storm surges of up to 10 feet to parts of Cuba’s northern coast and the central and northwestern Bahamas.
At least 24 people are known to have died in the Caribbean as a result of Irma. Many islands are still assessing the damage even as they try to prepare for the arrival of another major storm, Hurricane Jose.
Meteorologists issued dire warnings of a potentially deadly storm surge from the Category 4 storm.
A string of small islands to the east have been left reeling in the wake of the massive hurricane, which strengthened to a Category 5 storm as it made landfall in Cuba overnight, before being slightly downgraded to a Category 4 storm early Saturday.
Monahan, who lives in Fort Pierce, said she’s staying to take care of her farm. She grows citrus fruits and raises cattle on the farm, which has been in her family for generations, she said.
As the storm edges closer, Monahan said she’s sheltering at her home about 10 miles from the Atlantic coast. Several neighbors are also staying.
“We need everybody’s prayers — this storm seems very bad,” she told CNN’s Zain Asher. “We are close to harvesting our crops, and we need to be here to stick the trees back on the ground if they are blown up.”
Monahan said she wants to ensure that things are running smoothly at her farm and that her cows will deliver their calves safely later this month.