MANILA – Filipinos in Florida and the Caribbean have been advised to take safety precautions as Hurricane “Irma” is making its way across the southern Atlantic Ocean.
“Our kababayans in Florida and other parts of the East Coast and the Caribbean must heed the warnings of weather experts and take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety,” said Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano in a statement.
Cayetano assured the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. and the Philippine Embassy in Mexico as well as the Philippine Honorary Consulates in Haiti and the Dominican Republic were on standby and monitoring the storm.
Chargé d’Affaires Patrick Chuasoto of the Philippine Embassy in Washington said that aside from Florida, the hurricane will cross other Caribbean islands.
These are Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis; Saba, St. Eustatius, and Saint Maarten; Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy; British Virgin Islands; US Virgin Islands; Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra; and Haiti.
There are over 152,000 Filipinos in Florida, and a combined Filipino population of 3,607 in the Caribbean islands.
Ambassador to Mexico Eduardo De Vega said Irma will also hit Cuba, with a Filipino population of more than 500 and the Dominican Republic with around 100.
Both Philippine diplomatic posts advised the members of the Filipino communities in the areas to be affected to stock up on food and other emergency provisions, monitor developments and heed the guidance and warnings of local authorities.
According to the United States National Hurricane Center, Irma is now a Category 5 hurricane that can inflict potentially catastrophic damage in areas along its path.
Irma comes a week after Hurricane Harvey unleashed massive flooding in Houston. Leslie Gatpolintan/PNA-northboundasia.com