TAMPA, Fla - A Florida sheriff made public statements Sunday morning about last moment preparations for Hurricane Irma to hit the West Coast of Florida.
“The homeless need to know,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said, “their life is at risk.”
Judd said his officers made their third trip through the county on Sunday looking for homeless and asking them to take shelter.
“The success of keeping people safe,” Judd said, “depends on the people themselves.”
The eye of the storm hit the Florida Keys early Sunday morning with winds of 130 miles per hour.
The Miami Herald reported on Twitter, “With no one answering 911 due to Irma, Keys sheriff recovers a man’s body.”
The Herald’s post showed a truck wrapped around a tree.
The City of Miami Beach said Sunday morning that “rescue teams are no longer able to respond.”
Winds could reach more than 100 miles per hour in populated areas like Sarasota and Tampa according to the most recent forecasts.
A storm surge of up to 8 feet in those same areas was also possible depending on the exact track of the storm. Widespread electric outages are nearly guaranteed according to the forecasts.
Half a million people in the Keys were said to have already lost power.
An image from WFLA’s Facebook page showed a shelter in the Tampa area that was completely full, and reports of full shelters were common.
Officials said shelter would be found one way or another for everyone who needs it.
WFLA also reported that only one gas station was open in Hillsboro County which is one of the more populated areas on Florida’s west coast.
Sheriff Judd pleaded with people to not call 911 except for life-threatening emergencies.
“Don’t dial 911 to ask when the storm will be over,” Judd said.
Judd also asked people to think about storm recovery. After the storm passes, Judd asked people to consider cleaning downed trees and tree limbs from streets before clearing up their yards.
“That’s where you come in,” Judd said. “The quicker we can get the streets open, the quicker we can get emergency vehicles in.”