MARATHON, Fla. – Gov. Rick Scott urged all residents Wednesday to be prepared as Hurricane Irma moves closer to Florida, possibly impacting the state this weekend.
"The storm is bigger, stronger and faster than Hurricane Andrew," Scott said.
Scott, speaking from the Monroe County Emergency Operations Center in Marathon, asked residents to listen to evacuation orders from local officials.
"If you are told to evacuate, get out quickly," Scott said. "I cannot stress this enough, do not ignore evacuation orders. Remember, we can rebuild your home but we cannot rebuild your life."
Many people who live near Marathon were taking that warning seriously.
Carrie Lilly and her family were finishing up some last minute preparations Wednesday, before heading toward the mainland.
"We're preparing the house, packing up our valuables," Lilly said. "I'm trying to not get in the rush."
A mandatory evacuation for visitors and tourists in the Keys took effect at 7 a.m. Tuesday, and it will expand to residents at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Local leaders said it's better to leave early, than to wait.
"This is a big storm," Marathon City Councilman John Bartus said. "It's 500 miles wide. It's the distance from Tallahassee to Miami, practically, so you don't want to fool with this one."
The governor said the Florida National Guard will be standing by and ready to help with any recovery efforts after the storm.
Scott said the Army Corps of Engineers is lowering water levels at the Lake Okeechobee dyke in preparation for the storm.
He also asked residents to be considerate of fellow Floridians when shopping for water, supplies and gas.
"Take what you need, but only what you need," Scott said.
Scott also spoke later in the day at a news conference in Collier County, saying that 1,000 National Guard members have been activated.
The Florida Highway Patrol is monitoring evacuation routes to keep people safe.