Hurricane Irma Won’t Stop Florida College Football Games, Despite Impending 185 MPH Wind Warnings
Hurricane Irma may have all but flattened several Caribbean islands this week with her 185 mile per hour wind gusts, but that’s not enough to shut down sacred college football games and their accompanying big-money sports book lines on Florida, even in areas that are generally being evacuated.
At Florida State, which is a 34 1/2 point favorite over Louisiana-Monroe for Saturday’s game at Tallahassee’s Doak Campbell Stadium, the only concession has been to move the game’s kickoff back from 7 pm ET to noon.
And Central Florida, located in Orlando, cancelled classes for today and Friday, but decided not to postpone its opening game with the University of Memphis. The Knights, who are 3 1/2 point favorites, moved the game from Saturday’s 8 pm ET kickoff to Friday night at 6:30 instead.
Scott Urges Locals to Get Out While They Can
Hurricane Irma, the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic, ravaged the eastern Caribbean on Wednesday, levelling buildings and leaving at least ten people dead, a death toll that is expected to rise.
Meanwhile, Florida’s Governor Rick Scott is telling the state’s citizens to take Irma very, very seriously.
“This storm has the potential to devastate this state and you have to take this seriously,” Scott said, speaking from an Emergency Operations Center in Florida. ” … you can get new possessions, but you can’t rebuild your life,” he added, urging residents to move north if humanly possible.
In the southern parts of Florida, including the Keys, evacuations are already well underway. Miami Dade County is assisting special needs citizens, along with those in the lower-lying parts of the area, to get out before the weekend storm barrels in.
“These are 185-mph winds. This storm is massive,” Scott reminded Floridians.
But such warning are not enough to interfere with the sports books and college football. In Orlando, Orange County Office of Emergency Management Manager Ronald Plummer was downplaying the need to evacuate as of Wednesday afternoon.
“We are an inland county. We don’t recommend you to evacuate your home, if you are in a site-built home. We’re going to be in touch with individuals in manufactured or mobile home parks, and those in low-lying areas,” he said at a press conference yesterday, emphasizing that a shelter plan is in place for those in need of one.
Tallahassee, which sits on the northwest panhandle of the state, hasn’t gotten official evacuation directives, but chains like Costco were sold out early of major storm-handling items like generators, batteries, and of course, water.
State’s Casino Industry Mostly Mum
Meanwhile, Florida’s Seminole Tribe isn’t saying much of anything about its seven casinos’ operational status across the state. The only message posted Thursday on the Hollywood, Florida Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino site is about the unavailability of rooms from September 8 through 12.
Meanwhile, Hollywood’s Mayor Josh Levy tells his citizens in a video message that they should be prepared to operate self-sufficiently for “three to five days.”
“Stock up on supplies and protect your property,” Levy said in a video message posted on the City of Hollywood, Florida website.
The only other Seminole casino message as of Thursday was regarding a World Poker Tour (WPT) Deepstacks tournament, noting on its website that the event that was to be held at the Seminole Casino Hotel in Immokalee, Florida from Sept. 1-10 has been cancelled “due to the potential impact of Hurricane Irma on South Florida.”
Several of Florida’s parimutuel card rooms and tracks are situated in Miami-Dade County, including the Magic City Casino. But Irma may well continue its journey northwards through the state, impacting Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Tallahassee, although it is likely to have lost some of its potency by then.
The storm was travelling northeast of the Dominican Republic as of Thursday, heading towards the Turks and Caicos Islands, where its arrival is expected on this evening, local time.
Yesterday, the storm passed directly over the island of Barbuda, leaving it “barely habitable” before skirting the edge of Puerto Rico and battering the island of St. Martin.
The casinos of St. Martin are large employers on the islands and the extent of the damage they have sustained is not yet known. Irma has knocked out power and communications, leaving areas largely unreachable by any means, due to damage to harbors and the airport. Reports suggest that 95 percent of buildings on both St. Martin and Barbuda have been damaged or destroyed, although actual figures will be more apparent after crews can arrive to assess.
Barbuda is one half of the twin island nation of Antigua and Barbuda. The nation’s four casinos are all situated on Antigua, to the south, which was spared the worst of the hurricane.
Baha Mar to Kick Guests Out
Puerto Rico was also spared a direct hit, but the storm’s passage has left more than one million residents without electricity. It’s feared that it could be weeks or even months before full power is restored, due to the US unincorporated territory’s crumbling infrastructure.
Meanwhile, the $3.5 billion Grand Hyatt Baha Mar casino resort in Nassau in the Bahamas has announced that, should Nassau be determined to be in the hurricane’s path, it will order its guests to evacuate the property.
“It is possible that we will experience dangerous weather conditions by the end of this week and this weekend,” the hotel wrote in a letter to its guests, according to TheStreet. “Should the island be placed under a Hurricane Warning, we will require all guests to evacuate the property either to local shelter or to evacuate the island.”
Meteorologists are split over whether Hurricane Irma will continue heading north into Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, as forecasts become patchier heading into next week. As of this writing, Georgia and South Carolina, along with Florida, of course, had declared an official state of emergency via executive orders of their respective governors.
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