Nuclear power plants directly in the path of Hurricane Irma are preparing to shut down as the powerful storm barrels towards Florida.
Officials at Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point and St. Lucie say the plants are directly under threat, and need at least 24 hours to shut down.
‘Based on the current track, we would expect severe weather in Florida starting Saturday, meaning we would potentially shut down before that point,’ said FPL spokesperson Peter Robbins in a statement.
The St. Lucie nuclear power plant is being closed ahead of Hurricane Irma
Florida Power and Light workers Pehter Rodriguez (L) and Juan Madruga (R) confer at the Turkey Point Nuclear Reactor Building in Homestead, Florida
A general view of the Turkey Point Nuclear Reactor Building in Homestead, Florida May 18, 2017
Juan Madruga (L) and Pehter Rodriguez (R) of Florida Power and Light work on the Turkey Point Nuclear Reactor in Homestead
Before Thursday’s announcement, bosses expressed confidence that the power plants could whether the Category 5 hurricane, which were designed to withstand extreme natural events and serious floods.
Turkey Point, on Biscayne Bay about 24 miles south of Miami, saw off a Category 5 strike from Hurricane Andrew in 1992, sustaining $90million of damage in the process.
St. Lucie on Hutchinson Island about 55 miles north of West Palm Beach, weathered Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2005 and Wilma the year after.
Robbins said the plants were designed to withstand extreme natural events including hurricanes and serious floods. The reactors are encased in six feet of steel-reinforced concrete and sit 20 feet above sea level.
But as Irma stampeded over the Caribbean early Wednesday morning, officials aired on the side of caution and decided to take measures to close the two facilities.
‘This is an extremely dangerous storm,’ Rob Gould, chief communications officer at Florida Power & Light, told CNN.
City officials in Miami have also said that as many as 25 construction cranes cannot be taken down before Irma’s expected arrival over the weekend. Resident who live near buildings are being urged to evacuate as quickly as possible.
All together, more than a half-million people in Miami-Dade County were ordered to leave as Irma closed in with winds of 175 mph.
Meanwhile, French, British and Dutch military authorities rushed aid to the devastated Caribbean islands Thursday after Hurricane Irma left at least 10 people dead and thousands homeless.
Warships and planes were dispatched with food, water and troops after the fearsome Category 5 storm smashed homes, schools and roads, laying waste to some of the world’s most beautiful and exclusive tourist destinations.
The hurricane is now barreling towards Florida, and is followed by a Category 2 Hurricane named Hurricane Jose
This Sept. 7, 2017 photo provided by the Dutch Defense Ministry shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, in St. Maarten
Juan Negron, right, prepares to start up a power generator in front of whats left of his damaged property, after the passage of Hurricane Irma
A damaged house is pictured as Hurricane Irma moves off the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, in Nagua, Dominican Republic,
A man walks among debris as Hurricane Irma moves off the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, in Nagua
Officials have also warned that the city will not be able to take down some 25 construction cranes before Irma arrives
Hundreds of miles to the west, Florida braced for the onslaught, with forecasters warning Irma could slam headlong into the Miami metropolitan area of 6 million people, punish the entire length of the state’s Atlantic coast and move into Georgia and South Carolina.
‘Take it seriously,’ said Maj. Jeremy DeHart, a U.S. Air Force Reserve weather officer who flew through the eye of Irma at 10,000 feet. ‘Because this is the real deal.’
Hurricane Irma has been classified as a Category 5 Hurricane, the highest rank on the meteorological scale