Panama City (USA) (AFP) – With winds of 220 km / h, hurricane Michael, described as “extremely dangerous”, was preparing to hit the coast of Florida, a state placed in a state of emergency , where tens of thousands of inhabitants have been called to evacuate.
The hurricane, which passed Wednesday morning in category 4 on a scale of 5, could become even stronger, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), as it heads for the coast of Florida (southeastern US). United) on the Gulf of Mexico and must land in the day.
“This is a potentially deadly event for parts of the northeastern Gulf Coast,” warned the organization. While rainfall has started to hit the coast, sea level could rise by 4 meters in places, according to this source.
Some 375,000 people in more than 20 counties in the state of Florida have received the order or have been advised to evacuate, according to media reports.
The meteorological services of Tallahassee, capital of Florida, called on the population to comply with evacuation orders.
“Hurricane Michael is an unprecedented event, it can not be compared to any of those we’ve known, do not put your life in danger, leave NOW if you’ve been asked to do it,” urged weather services .
The hurricane, which must be accompanied by heavy rainfall, was to land along the Panhandle in Florida, along the Gulf of Mexico, before crossing the southeastern United States for a day in the direction of Atlantic.
Michael could be “the most devastating storm that has hit Florida in decades,” Republican Governor Rick Scott said Tuesday. This “will be the most powerful in over a hundred years” in some areas, warned the state emergency services on Twitter Tuesday night.
“This is your last chance to prepare for this monstrous and deadly storm,” Scott said, adding that 2,500 National Guard soldiers were mobilized. “Do not forget that you can rebuild your house, but not bring you back to life.”
– Emergency state –
“We are very well prepared,” Trump said Tuesday, who had previously called Michael a “big” hurricane and called on locals to prepare for the worst.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency “Fema is ready, everyone is ready,” he added.
The hurricane could eventually hit “parts of Georgia and, unfortunately, again North Carolina and South Carolina,” already hit by Hurricane Florence a month ago, he warned on Twitter.
Florence has made forty deaths and billions of dollars in damage.
The US President on Tuesday approved the state of emergency declared the day before in 35 counties of Florida by the governor Scott, which makes it possible to release additional material means, as well as federal funds in order to face the consequences of the hurricane .
The governor of neighboring Alabama state Kay Ivey declared a state of emergency late Monday afternoon.
The evacuation measures involve 120,000 people in Bay County, said Tuesday morning Sheriff Tommy Ford, who insisted on the need to evacuate “as soon as possible.” He warned those who refused to leave that once the hurricane arrived, the authorities could not help them “until weather conditions permit.”
Dean Allred, a resident of Panama City, decided to leave the city. “You never know what will happen, but I do not see the point of taking any risk,” he told NBC after filling his car with provisions.
The Keys archipelago, at the southern tip of Florida, had suffered heavy rains since Tuesday morning announcing the hurricane.
The road traffic had become denser since Monday, the queues were lying in front of the gas stations and some were provided with sandbags to protect their homes.
“We are working hard,” Andrew Gillum, Democratic Mayor of Tallahassee, said Tuesday.
“We have a lot of trees in this town (…), it means they will fall on the power lines” and there will be “cuts” of current, he warned.
With less than a month of national elections mid-term, elected officials know that posting their mobilization in the face of the hurricane is also an electoral argument.
Mr. Gillum hopes to become the first black governor of Florida, where he faces Donald Trump‘s ardent supporter, Ron DeSantis. Gillum announced that he will suspend his campaign to focus on preparations for Michael’s arrival.
Florida was hit hard by Hurricane Irma a year ago.