If Hurricane Irma turns its fury toward the United States, it will hit while the Houston area is still recovering from Hurricane Harvey, raising concerns among some experts that government resources will be stretched thin.
“This hurricane has the potential to be a major event for the East Coast. It also has the potential to significantly strain FEMA and other governmental resources occurring so quickly on the heels of Harvey,” said Evan Myers, expert senior meteorologist and chief operating officer for Accuweather.
Myers said more responsiblity might thus shift to individuals, who should monitor and prepare for a possibly disruptive storm.
“As we saw just 10 days ago with Harvey, it is important to be ready to evacuate,” Myers said Tuesday in a statement.
FEMA is continuing its response efforts to Hurricane Harvey while getting ready for Irma, the agency said Tuesday in a statement.
“As the federal family remains committed to supporting state, local and tribal response and recovery efforts in Texas and Louisiana, FEMA is leaning forward to prepare in advance of Hurricane Irma, which is churning toward the Caribbean, and possibly the U.S. mainland later this week,” the agency said.
The agency warned, “Now is the time for everyone in the U.S. Atlantic territories, and those living along the U.S. Gulf and East Coasts to prepare for this potentially dangerous storm system.”
Irma has grown into a dangerous Category 5 storm, the most powerful seen in the Atlantic in over a decade, and is sweeping toward islands in the northeast Caribbean Tuesday on a path that could eventually bring it to the United States, the Associated Press reports.
Meteorologist Dave Epstein said Irma is going to continue moving west before eventually turning north. The timing is critical to how the United States is affected. On one path, it could skirt the coast. On another path, it could roll through Florida and up the East Coast, causing trouble in Massachusetts sometime next week, though it would be weakened by that time. On a third path, it could go west past Florida and make landfall on the Gulf Coast.
Accuweather said, “The entire southern and eastern U.S. should monitor Irma this week.”
FEMA also warned, “History shows that storm tracks can change quickly and unexpectedly.”
Here are some steps FEMA suggests that people can take to prepare for a storm:
■ Prepare a disaster kit, with a three-day supply of nonperishable food and bottled water, a battery-operated radio, a flashlight, extra batteries, cash, medicines, a first aid kit, pet foods, and important family documents.
■ Know your evacuation routes, and prepare options for overnight lodging.
■ Download the FEMA mobile app (available in English and Spanish), which includes a variety of useful functions, including weather alerts, a checklist of emergency supples, and maps of shelters and recovery centers.