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Thursday
Sep072017

How South Florida teams are helping their communities prepare for Irma

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images(MIAMI) -- Major South Florida sports teams are preparing for Hurricane Irma, which could make landfall near Miami this weekend.

According to the National Weather Service, Irma could hit South Florida as a Category 4 storm. Maximum sustained winds could be nearly 150 mph.

With the possibility of major destruction and displacement for residents in Miami and neighboring counties, organizations like the Florida Panthers are working with local authorities to help in any way they can.

Matthew Caldwell, president and CEO of the Panthers, told ABC News that he and several others within the organization will stay at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, starting on Friday.

"We're gonna bunker down here and just work closely with authorities to see what they need," he said. "We're more inland, so we'll be safe. We also have a back-up generator."

Florida Power & Light will also use the arena as a "logistics base," Caldwell said of the power company that serves millions of homes in South Florida. In addition, as many as 3,000 people from FP&L and other local organizations will be staying inside and outside the arena, using it as a base of operations to help residents who need it.

"We are willing and able to anything possible for the community," he said.

After Irma hits, Caldwell and others within the Panthers organization will re-evaluate and see if there's room to help or house other organizations and people. They are also in touch with the mayor of Sunrise and other leaders in Broward County.

Miami-Dade County has expanded its evacuation zones, asking more than 600,000 people to leave the region.

The local Miami Dolphins have taken to stripping Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens in advance of the storm and their against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has also been canceled.

Tom Garfinkle, president and CEO of the Dolphins, tweeted out photos of the practice field and the stadium. "@HardRockStadium stripped bare... God Bless and stay safe," he wrote on Wednesday.

According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Dolphins have also offered the stadium as a home base for distribution of relief efforts and supplies if it gets to that point. Those details will change if and when the storm hits.

The Sentinel also added that nearby Marlins Park in Miami will close the stadium’s retractable roof on Friday. But there are no plans as of yet to turn the park into a shelter, Marlins VP Claude Delorme told the paper.

"The only way the county would ask us is if it was a major catastrophe, a Category 4 or 5 and the city was shut down and they needed to accommodate so many people and were looking for facilities. By all means, we would be accommodating,” he said.

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