Florida braces for Hurricane Irma
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Florida is bracing for one of the largest storms to strike its shores in years as Hurricane Irma barrels through the Caribbean and toward the U.S. mainland. 

Even as the storm was downgraded to a Category 4 early Friday, the National Hurricane Center characterized Irma as "extremely dangerous," bringing maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour.

The storm is expected to make landfall in Florida on Saturday.  

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In parts of Florida, gas, bottled water and plywood became scarce as people packed up to evacuate the state or buckled down and prepared to ride out the storm. Counties throughout the southern and central parts of the state issued either mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders.

Residents scrambled to make final preparations before the storm, which tore through the Turks and Caicos Friday morning.

Hurricane Irma has already had a deadly effect throughout the Caribbean. So far, at least 18 people have died from the hurricane, according to The New York Times. In St. Martin, an official said 95 percent of the island was destroyed. 

Irma is expected to be the second major hurricane to strike the U.S. in the past two weeks. Late last month, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas and later Louisiana, leaving behind it a trail of devastation.

President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump vows 'No more money for RINOS,' instead encouraging donations to his PAC Federal judge rules 'QAnon shaman' too dangerous to be released from jail Pelosi says Capitol riot was one of the most difficult moments of her career MORE has already approved emergency declarations in Florida, Puerto Rico and South Carolina, as well as a disaster declaration for the U.S. Virgin Islands, which were badly hit by Irma. 

Trump and lawmakers have sought to respond swiftly to Harvey.

The Senate on Thursday passed a stopgap measure to fund the government through the end of September and temporarily raise the debt ceiling. That bill also included more than $15 billion in hurricane and disaster recovery money.