MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Miami-Dade County has issued mandatory evacuation orders for coastal cities ahead of Hurricane Irma.
Wednesday evening, the county issued a mandatory evacuation order for Zones A and B - the two closest to the coast. The order goes into effective at 7 a.m. Thursday.
"If you do not heed the warning and you do not heed the mandatory evacuation order and you have a problem, I'm not saying we can't get to you, I'm saying we may not be able to get to you, so that's the risk you are taking," said Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said.
Zone A includes most of Coastal Miami-Dade including Key Biscayne, while Zone B includes Miami Beach, Miami's Brickell Avenue neighborhood, more inland areas and other oceanfront cities. Click here for a map of evacuation zones.
For optimum safety, those in Miami Beach are urged to evacuate using the most direct route to their destination, which include: A1A Northbound/Collins Avenue, 41 Street to Julia Tuttle Causeway and 5 Street to MacArthur Causeway westbound.
All city garages are now open for residents to park free of cost, with the exception of the City Hall garage.
The county is opening four shelters, one of which is pet-friendly. Click here for a full list of shelters.
"The storm continues to be a threat to Miami-Dade County," said Gimenez. "Miami-Dade County has begun evacuating 2,200 special needs residents."
Gimenez told residents that shelters should be a last resort due to limits in capacity.
Homeland Security issued a statement saying nobody should fear to seek shelter, whether they're here legally or illegally.
"When it comes to rescuing people, in the wake of Hurricane Irma, immigration status is not and will not be a factor," said Sen. Marco Rubio.
As for preps, there have been reports of lack of bottled water. The mayor had a tip for those who have not been able to find some.
"Miami-Dade County water is safe to drink. Open the tap and use containers in your home to store tap water," said Gimenez. "There is nothing wrong with Miami-Dade County water. In the old days, we used to store them in pots and pans."
The mayor ask residents not to cut hedges or start any major clean-up efforts since bulky waste scheduling has been suspended.
"If residents need to immediately dispose of household trash, yard trash and bulky items, please take it to one of your 13 neighborhood trash and recycling center in Miami-Dade County," said Gimenez.
The trash and recycling centers are open from 7 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, gave an update for students, parents and teachers asking if schools would be open Monday.
"We will make that decision sometime between Friday and Saturday after consultation with state as well as county entities," said Carvalho.
Schools are closed Thursday and Friday. All employees, other than essential employees, will be off duty as of tonight.
The main number right how is 35 mph. If winds reach that high, trash pick up, public transportation and operations at Miami International Airport will stop.
PortMiami will be closed down starting 8 a.m. Saturday. Ships will leave the port Friday at noon.
Those who have boats in marinas, are asked to secure their boats as soon as they can.
The mayor said that eventually - probably by Friday or Saturday - all drawbridges will be locked.
Miami-Dade parks and libraries will be closed starting Thursday.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio said, on a federal level, FEMA has activated all three of its regions meant to help Florida coordinate any help for federal assistance.
"To support the state of Florida, FEMA has now moved more than 8.5 million liters of water and nearly 6.6 million meals as well as cots, blankets, generators, durable medical equipment, infant care items, plastic sheeting and tarps and other such material," said Rubio.
Residents are urged to stay alert. Miami-Dade County offers a variety of apps and alerts to stay up to date. You can sign up for Miami-Dade Emergency Alerts that will let you know through email or texts about public safety issues, recommended public protective actions, or other emergency information. Their SAFE app lets users find open and available evacuation centers and Disaster Assistance Centers near you. To report damage info to the county, click here.
To report price gouging, click here. Officials ask that you call your local police or dial '866-9-no-scam' or 866-966-7226.
Make sure to use 311 to call for general questions about Hurricane Irma. Do not call 911 for general questions.
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