MANILA- Philippine embassies in the United States and Mexico have been placed on a "higher state of readiness" to quickly help Filipinos who may be affected by Hurricane Irma.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Thursday he has instructed Philippine missions in the 2 countries to be ready to deploy teams to hurricane-affected areas in case Filipinos would need aid.
"We should not be taking any chances and should be ready to assist our nationals who may get caught in the middle of this storm," Cayetano said in a statement.
Cayetano has also instructed Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola to ensure availability of funds to Filipinos who may be affected by the hurricane.
Described as one of the most powerful Atlantic storms in a century, Irma killed 8 people on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin and left Barbuda devastated on Thursday.
The Department of Foreign Affairs is still waiting for reports on the condition of Filipinos in affected areas. Data from the Philippine Embassy in Washington showed that there are 72 Filipinos in Anguilla, 32 in Antigua and Barbuda, and 264 in the British Virgin Islands- areas on the path of the storm.
Cayetano said the DFA is particularly concerned about Turks and Caicos, where there are an estimated 2,327 Filipinos, the largest Philippine community in the Caribbean.
The islands are at risk of storm surges with destructive waves that could go as high as 20 feet.
The hurricane is also expected to make landfall in Florida, where there are around 150,000 Filipinos. --with a report from Reuters