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As Hurricane Irma churned its way toward the Caribbean as a Category 5 storm Tuesday, Puerto Rico residents cleared store shelves of bottled water, flashlights and other staples as the U.S. territory braced for the possibility of a Wednesday landfall.
Irma, already one of the strongest storms on record with 185 mph winds, was expected to make landfall in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands by Wednesday before moving across Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos, according to the National Hurricane Center.
With classes canceled, schools were being stocked with supplies and starting to accept residents heeding the warning of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello to “take Hurricane Harvey as a lesson” and evacuate their homes in low-lying areas.
Rossello declared a state of emergency on Monday, activating the National Guard and freeing up $15 million in emergency funds for the financially troubled island, his office said in a statement.