'The House Was Tearing Apart': Hurricane Irma Hammers Caribbean, Heads Toward Florida

Hurricane Irma battered a number of islands in the Caribbean yesterday, destroying housing stock on St. Maarten, St. Barts and Antigua, flooding Puerto Rico, and reducing Barbuda to rubble. Now the storm, which has killed at least eleven people so far, is north of the Dominican Republic, and weather experts expect it'll hit South Florida in just a matter of days—just in time for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to run out of cash.

Irma's 185 mph winds ransacked Barbuda early Wednesday morning, destroying 90 percent of the island's housing stock, according to Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne. Barbuda's population is only approximately 1,600 people, and Browne confirmed at least one person, an infant, is dead. Browne says the island is now "barely habitable," and that portions of it are "literally underwater."

One Barbuda resident who weathered the storm told ABS TV/Radio Antigua, "I start praying and I ask God to just come and help me get out of this house because the house was like tearing apart. It was like sucking us up, because we were holding on the bathroom door."

Now Irma's on its way to the East Coast, with Accuweather predicting a big hit from Florida up to the Carolinas starting this weekend. "Because Irma is likely to move up along the east coast of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, people from the Florida Keys all the way to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, should prepare to be ready to evacuate coastal areas, starting with South Florida now," Evan Myers, AccuWeather expert senior meteorologist and chief operating officer, said.

Though it's too soon to tell exactly where Irma will make landfall, it's possible the center of the storm will pass near Miami and then continue north, which AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll says will have a "severe" impact. Some Florida counties have already issued mandatory evacuation orders, and the governors of Georgia, North and South Carolina have issued states of emergency for some or all counties.

There's more bad news—FEMA's resources were so strained by the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey in Texas over the last two weeks that their funds are now nearly depleted. "FEMA is scheduled to run out of money by Friday, just two days before Hurricane Irma is expected to hit Florida," Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio said in a joint statement this week. "Unfortunately, the current disaster-relief package Congress is considering for Hurricane Harvey doesn’t account for the additional costs FEMA will likely incur as a result of Hurricane Irma."

In other potentially bad news, Irma is not alone. There are two other hurricanes in the Atlantic now, Katia and Jose, though they are not expected to do as much damage. But they are eerily mirroring a similar Hurricane formation in 2010.

Stay tuned—and beware of fake Irma videos that are circulating on social media right now.

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