Trump Declares Emergency as Hurricane Irma Approaches

President Trump has declared a state of emergency in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands as Hurricane Irma barrels through the Atlantic with 185-mph winds. The Category 5 storm—the most powerful hurricane to form in the open Atlantic—is expected to hit the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands on Wednesday before forecasters say it may slam the U.S. coast. Experts say there is an “increasing chance” it will affect the East Coast over the weekend, and there is a possibility it will slam straight into Florida. Evacuations were set to begin Wednesday in several South Florida counties, as authorities announced school closings and began planning for shelters. Meanwhile, experts warned of devastating damages if the “potentially catastrophic” storm were to directly hit the U.S. coast. Irma “is the kind of storm where you get thousands of lives lost,” Chuck Watson, a Georgia-based disaster modeler with Enki Research, told Bloomberg. “This is not going to be the big slow-motion flood like Harvey—this is a real, honest-to-God hurricane.”