The eye of Hurricane Irma has hit the lower Florida Keys as a category four storm. The storm is expected to travel north-west to Florida's Gulf Coast at a speed of 13 kilometres per hour.
Sirpa Aho’s home is on Hurricane Irma’s path. Aho lives in the Lake Shores neighbourhood near West Palm Beach, 100 kilometres north of Miami. The area is popular among Finnish expats.
“Yesterday the wind picked up and became gusty. Storm clouds arrived from the Atlantic and brought thunder and rain. Today the rain has only gotten heavier,” Aho describes.
“Sometimes the rain gets so hard it feels like we’re standing in the shower.”
Evacuation orders were given to 6.5 million people. Aho decided to stay in their Florida home with her husband. The two retirees feel safer in their sturdy concrete block house than on the road – especially since most gas stations have run out of fuel.
Ready for the worst, hoping for the best
Local authorities imposed a curfew yesterday. Aho and her husband intend to follow the hurricanes path as long as they have electricity. Authorities have also issued regular updates through text messages.
“We’re afraid of the worst and hoping for the best. We’re confident it’s going to be alright. We live in a tropical paradise, and you just have to live with the downsides, like hurricanes,” Aho says.
Hurricane Irma's winds are expected to whip through the state at 58 metres per second.
Aho can hear the wind outside: “The wind is very loud and making trees bend,” Aho describes.
According to officials, over a million people in Florida are without electricity. At least one person is reported to have died after losing control of a truck.