Miami Residents Told To Leave As Irma Bears Down (Photos)

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Residents of the Florida Keys have been advised by officials to "get out" of town as Hurricane Irma barrels toward the Florida coast.

Mandatory evacuations were issued for barrier islands and low-lying mainland districts where the massive storm is expected to cause widespread devastation in the coming days.

"I'll do anything in my power to convince [everyone] this is a very serious storm," Miami-Dade Mayor Philip Levine said in a press conference, according to the Daily Mail. "This is a nuclear hurricane. They should leave the beach, they must leave the beach."

The mandatory evacuation went into effect on Sept. 7 and affects about 100,000 people. It is the first mandatory evacuation order implemented in Miami since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has warned citizens to comply with the order, reminding them of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

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"Let's all remember, we can rebuild your home, but we can't rebuild your life," he said.

Adding to the anxiety is the fact that two nuclear power plants -- which provide power to almost 2 million homes -- are situated in Irma's path.

"Based on the current track, we would expect severe weather in Florida starting Saturday, meaning we would potentially shut down before that point," Florida Power & Light spokesman Peter Robbins explained.

He added that the plants are designed to be able to resist extreme weather conditions, including high winds and massive flooding. One of the reactors withstood Hurricane Andrew in 1992, while the other survived Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

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Irma, which is currently rampaging through the Caribbean, has already killed at least 10 people, according to CNN. It has maintained 180 mph winds longer than any other storm on record.

Gaston Browne, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said about 95 percent of buildings have been damaged on the island of Barbuda. He described the storm as "unprecedented" and "absolutely devastating," adding that it has caused an estimated $100 million in damage.

Irma is expected to slam into the Turks and Caicos Islands and parts of the Bahamas before making landfall in southern Florida on Sept. 10.

"Some of these Turks and Caicos [Islands] will be completely overwashed," CNN meteorologist Chad Myers predicted.

In the Bahamas, evacuation orders were given to the southern islands of Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay and Ragged Island, with Prime Minister Hubert Minnis calling it "the largest such evacuation in the history of the country."

Sources: Daily Mail, CNN / Featured Image: NOAA via Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: CNN

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