UPDATE: At least 14 people dead, thousands homeless by Hurricane Irma

Dubbed as the most powerful and deadliest storm in the Atlantic, Category 5 Hurricane Irma left at least 14 people dead and thousands of people homeless on Friday as it continues to devastate everything along its path.

At least 14 people dead, thousands homeless by Hurricane Irma
Photo courtesy of NOAA/NASA/UWM-CIMSS, William Straka III
After destroying a number of islands in the Caribbean including Barbuda, Saint Martin and the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Irma is battering through Haiti and the Dominican Republic with winds of approximately 290 km/hour. The US National Hurricane Center predicts that it could dump 15 inches of rain in the area, which could trigger dangerous flooding as well as mudslides.

At least 14 people dead, thousands homeless by Hurricane Irma
Aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Philipsburg, on the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Martin PHOTO CREDIT: NBC News

The superstorm is expected to hit Florida as a Category 4 Hurricane on Friday, while flooding and storm surges are expected to hit in the next 48 hours.

According to the US National Hurricane Center on Thursday, Irma will likely make its landfall in southern Florida. It is expected to bring life-threatening storm surge and wind impacts in most parts of the state.

In Florida, emergency management officials have started carrying out evacuations. On the other hand, a mandatory evacuation on Georgia's Atlantic coast is set to start on Saturday. Caribbean authorities have evacuated thousands of residents and tourists in the path of the superstorm.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned residents to be prepared to evacuate regardless of which coast they live on.

"This is not a storm you can sit and wait through. You don't have to drive hundreds of miles or leave the state to be safe. Go to shelters,” Scott said.

Scott has also ordered Florida law enforcement to escort gas trucks to gas stations in order to address fuel shortages in the state.

In his interview with reporters on Thursday, US President Donald Trump said: “The amount of wind that's coming in, we don't think we've seen anything quite like this.”

-- Mini, The Summit Express

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