Miami-Dade holds off on Irma evacuation orders — for now

No evacuation orders will be issued in Miami-Dade County yet, Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Wednesday, warning that people living on barrier islands and low-lying mainland areas may still be asked to leave ahead of Hurricane Irma.

“The storm’s slowing down, giving us a little bit more time,” Gimenez said from the county’s emergency operations center in Doral.

Some 2,000 vulnerable residents who live in county storm-surge zones A and B could be asked to leave before Irma hits, Gimenez said Wednesday.

Zone A covers Key Biscayne and coastal areas in southern Miami-Dade and north of Miami; zone B covers Miami’s Brickell Avenue neighborhood, more inland areas, Miami Beach and other oceanfront cities.

Once an order is issued, residents are asked to leave voluntarily ahead of expected coastal flooding that will prevent emergency services from reaching those areas during the storm.

Gimenez held off on mandating evacuations Wednesday even as Broward County ordered evacuations for residents in coastal and low-lying areas and mobile homes. Broward evacuations will begin noon Thursday. Fourteen Broward emergency shelters will also open Thursday.

Four emergency Miami-Dade shelters with capacity for 8,000 people will open at 5 p.m. Wednesday for people who want to leave their homes. One will be pet-friendly

Both counties announced their respective decisions after the National Hurricane Center issued its 11 a.m. Irma advisory showing the storm continuing its steam toward South Florida.

This developing story will be updated.