Florida residents brace for the impact of Hurricane Irma

Heavy rainfall batters the area, is causing inland flooding

(WWLP) – As Florida continues to feel the effects of hurricane Irma, people here in western Massachusetts, wait anxiously, as the storm leaves devastation in its wake.

My cousin Bryan Mitchell, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said, “All the shelters are full. We just wanted to make sure the house was safe and everything. We boarded up real good. We have shutters on the windows and everything. And we locked everything down and strapped everything down in the yard.”

He and my nearly 90 year-old aunt and uncle are staying behind bracing Hurricane Irma, despite Governor Rick Scott’s warning to get out. A mandatory evacuation he ordered days ago, but some Floridians are choosing to stay in their homes instead.

7-million people evacuated Florida and Georgia.

“A lot of gusty winds and rain. A lot of palm trees are on the ground,” said Mitchell. One of the fiercest Atlantic storms, Irma packs winds of 130 miles per hour. It continues to make its way across Florida, after leaving a path of destruction across the Caribbean, leaving at least 25 people dead.

Millions are without power, including my family, who lost their backup generator.

22News went to the Jewish Community Center, where we found people who were concerned about loved ones and their safety.

Barbara Consolmagno, of Springfield, told 22News, “My brother, sister-in-law, and my nieces and many of their friends are in Naples. The Naples part of Florida in Bonita Springs.”

People here kept their eyes glued to the TV, as they watched the storm unfold.

Consolmagno added, “I’m very familiar with the area and I know what it looked like before now and what it’s going to look like after. It just makes you feel really sick. Really depressed and sick that they’re going to have to rebuild all over.”

36-million people have been affected by hurricane Irma, and Florida is in a statewide emergency.

The major hazards are storm tide and surge, which is expected to reach up to 15 feet. Heavy rainfall batters the area, causing inland flooding.

Tornado warnings are already in effect for Florida, and now, Floridians and the rest of the country, wait, as we all hope for the best.