Curfews issued in Broward, Miami Beach and Miami as Irma nears

Curfews are being issued across South Florida as the region prepares to clear roads ahead of Hurricane Irma: 4 p.m. in Broward County, 7 p.m. in the city of Miami and 8 p.m. in Miami Beach.

Broward County said it would start enforcing a curfew at 4 p.m. Saturday, which will remain in effect “until further notice,” according to a tweet from the county’s emergency management division.

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado told the Herald he planned to announce the city would impose a Saturday curfew starting at 7 p.m.

Miami Beach, which is under a mandatory evacuation order, will issue a curfew starting at 8 p.m. Saturday through 7 a.m. Sunday, according to a statement from the city. Essential services such as fire, police and hospital services are exempt from the curfew.

But Miami-Dade County is opting not to impose a curfew Saturday, Mayor Carlos Gimenez told reporters Saturday morning.

“We have police officers on the road at this time. We may experience some hurricane-strength winds,” he said. Curfews are usually put in place after a storm, “when you suffer a number of power outages, etc. I’m not going to second-guess what Broward County is doing. But that’s not something I’m thinking of doing right now.”

Gimenez has faced criticism for the county’s slow pace in opening shelters, and for logistical problems in staffing and operating them. Miami-Dade had 41 shelters open on Saturday, and 11 were full. About 26,000 people were listed as being inside in response to an unprecedented evacuation order that impacted more than 600,000 Miami-Dade residents.

At his Saturday briefing, Gimenez announced the county’s lone shelter for people with special medical needs — whose location is only revealed to people who register in advance — was full. “If you have an emergency,” he said, “call 911.”

Even as he declined to order residents off of the roads as Irma is forecast to head for Florida’s west coast instead of Miami, Gimenez warned against taking the storm lightly. He noted his home, in the Coconut Grove area, has already lost power and suffered a downed tree.

“There have been some rumors about Miami-Dade being in the clear and being safe from a hit by Hurricane Irma because we’re no longer in the cone,” Gimenez said. “We must remain vigilant. A very serious storm is coming our way, and will be here through Sunday.”

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Miami, cautioned against deciding a different track from Irma will spare the region from dangerous winds.

“Don’t be the guy killed by a tree,” he said.