MANILA - Filipinos in Florida and the Caribbean were told on Wednesday to take precaution as "extremely dangerous" hurricane Irma makes its way across the southern Atlantic Ocean.
The Department of Foreign affairs reminded the more than 150,000 Filipinos in the said areas to watch out for advisories being issued in preparation for a hurricane that was 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...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," Secretary Alan Peter 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, added Cayetano.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Center said the hurricane is now classified as Category 5, and can inflict potentially catastrophic damage in areas along its path.
Irma is expected to make landfall along the string of French islands that includes Guadeloupe late Tuesday before heading to Haiti and Florida.
Irma comes a week after Hurricane Harvey unleashed massive flooding in Houston, noted the DFA.
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 Caribbean islands, which has a combined Filipino population of 3,607.
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.
Ambassador 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.
Members of the Filipino communities in the areas to be affected were advised to stock up on food and other emergency provisions, monitor developments, and heed the guidance and warnings of local authorities.
Should Filipinos need assistance, they may 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.