Filipinos in Florida, Caribbean urged to prepare for ‘Irma’
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano advised Filipinos in Florida and the Caribbean on Wednesday to take the necessary precautions as “potentially catastrophic” Hurricane “Irma” heads towards southern Atlantic Ocean.
“We have seen how Hurricane Irma has been gathering strength in the past few days,” Cayetano said in a statement. “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.”
The DFA said it also issued advisories to the more than 152,000 Filipinos who are in areas along the path of Irma.
Cayetano assured that the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. and Mexico and the Philippine honorary consulates in Haiti and the Dominican Republic are on standby and are monitoring the storm.
The DFA also noted the United States National Hurricane Center’s report that Irma is now a category 5 hurricane that can inflict potentially catastrophic damage as one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. The hurricane also comes a week after Hurricane Harvey unleashed massive floods in Houston.
Chargé d’Affaires Patrick Chuasoto of the Philippine Embassy in Washington said that aside from the 150,115 Filipinos in Florida, Irma will also affect 3,607 Filipinos across the following Caribbean islands: Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, Saint Maarten, Saint Martin, Saint Barthelemy, British Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Vieques, 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,” said Chuasoto.
He added that the Embassy is in touch with Honorary Consul Henry Howard in Florida and Honorary Consul Fitzgerald Brandt in Port-au-Prince.
Ambassador to Mexico Eduardo De Vega, meanwhile, said Irma will also hit Cuba and Dominican Republic, with more than 500 and a hundred Filipinos, respectively.
De Vega assured that 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 have 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, D.C. at +1-202-368-2767 and the Philippine Embassy in Mexico at +52-155-2771-3776, the DFA said.
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