Filipinos in Florida and Carribean told to be ready for ‘Irma’
The Department of Foreign Affairs on Thursday advised Filipinos in Florida and the Caribbean to start bracing themselves for Hurricane Irma—a potentially catastrophic storm that is making its way across the southern Atlantic Ocean.
In a statement, the DFA said advisories are being issued to the more than 152,000 Filipinos who are in the path of Irma, which weather experts described as one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.
“We have seen how Hurricane Irma has been gathering strength in the past few days,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said. “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.”
Cayetano said 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 are on standby and are monitoring the storm.
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.
Chargé d'Affaires Patrick Chuasoto of the Philippine Embassy in Washington said that aside from Florida, with its Filipino population of 150,115, Irma will cross the following Caribbean islands with a combined Filipino population of 3,607; 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.
“We advise all our “kababayans” along the path of Hurricane Irma to stay indoors and avoid unnecessary travel until the storm has passed,” Chuasoto said.
He said the Embassy is in touch with Honorary Consul Henry Howard in Florida and Honorary Consul Fitzgerald Brandt in Port-ay-Prince.
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.
De Vega said the Embassy in Mexico remains in touch with leaders of the Filipino Community in Havana and with Honorary Consul Limuel Dudalo in Sto. Domingo.
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.
Filipino nationals in areas to be impacted by Irma who may need assistance can call the emergency hotlines of the Philippine Embassy in Washington,
DC at +1-202-368-2767 and the Philippine Embassy in Mexico at +52-155-2771-3776.