Tue Sep 5, 2017 01:00AM
Irma surged to a dangerous Category Four storm Monday as it moved toward the Leeward islands, sparking alarm and alerts from the Caribbean to Florida. (Photo by AFP)
Irma surged to a dangerous Category Four storm Monday as it moved toward the Leeward islands, sparking alarm and alerts from the Caribbean to Florida. (Photo by AFP)

While Texas recovers from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, the East and Gulf coasts of the US are now bracing for Hurricane Irma as Florida Governor Rick Scott declares a state of emergency as it strengthens into a category 4 storm.

“Today, given these forecasts and the intensity of this storm, I have declared a state of emergency for every county in Florida to make certain that state, federal and local governments are able to work together and make sure resources are dispersed to local communities as we get prepared for this storm,” the governor said in a statement.

 “In Florida, we always prepare for the worst and hope for the best and, while the exact path of Irma is not absolutely known at this time, we cannot afford to not be prepared. This state of emergency allows our emergency management officials to act swiftly in the best interest of Floridians without the burden of bureaucracy or red tape.”

In areas of South Florida, people are taking that warning very seriously and some stores are already out of essential goods.

Irma is set to hit the Puerto Rico on Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. The NHC had forecasted Irma would strengthen on Tuesday night, but it said Monday it had developed into a Category 4 hurricane.

The storm will be the second powerful hurricane to thrash the United States and its territories in as many weeks. The intensifying hurricane threatens to pound the Caribbean, Florida and the US East Coast, according to the NHC.

A refrigerant gas cylinder rests next to a truck in a ditch outside of the Arkema plant which received major damage from flooding caused by Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey on September 4, 2017 in Crosby, Texas. (AFP)

"There is an increasing chance of seeing some impacts from Irma in the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys later this week and this weekend. In addition, rough surf and dangerous marine conditions will begin to affect the southeastern US coast by later this week," the center said.