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Hurricane Irma: Miami Beach mayor asks residents to voluntarily evacuate

Before the rush

Miami Beach residents have been asked to voluntarily evacuate the city by Mayor Philip Levine, who addressed the public early Tuesday evening.

“This is so serious,” Levine said. “There are so many people that may want to get off this island. If you can, begin making plans now to leave Miami Beach.”

Hurricane Irma is advancing across the Atlantic as a Category 5 storm with sustained winds of 185 miles per hour, according to the latest advisory by the National Hurricane Center. While mandatory evacuations haven’t been issued, they could be coming as early as Wednesday, as Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez alluded to hours earlier. Levine’s pleading appears to be in an effort to decrease the type of gridlock that’d occur after an official mandatory evacuation would be issued.

“The hurricane coming our way, Hurricane Irma, is one of the most powerful storms in the history of the Atlantic basin,” Levine said. “It’s more powerful than Harvey. It’s potentially more powerful than Andrew and in anticipation of this evacuation order, I make a personal appeal to our residents to consider, earlier than the evacuation order to begin vacating our city assuming that you have a place to go.”

You can watch Levine’s press conference in full on Facebook. For a Miami guide to tracking this hurricane, click here.