Orlando Islamic Center Hosts 100 Irma Evacuees

ORLANDO – While many worshipping houses closed their doors to avoid Hurricane Irma destruction, Tariq Rasheed, the imam of the Islamic Center of Orlando, opened his mosque for people seeking shelter, hosting around 150.

Rasheed said the building was sheltering about 150 people as of 5 pm on Sept. 10 as Hurricane Irma was traveling up Florida’s west coast, The Washington Post reported on Monday, September 11.

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Unlike church sanctuaries, which are filled with pews, mosques usually have wide open large carpeted spaces for worship that can easily be transformed into places where people can camp out.

While many churches and synagogues have community or parish halls that can accommodate people, but mosques can offer the actual worship space.

Irma hit Florida on Sunday and weakened to a tropical storm before becoming a tropical depression early on Tuesday.

The storm was downgraded as it moved north towards Atlanta, with maximum sustained winds of 56km/h (35mph) later recorded, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in a statement.

Media reports link at least four deaths to the storm in Florida. Last week it killed at least 37 people in Caribbean islands.

Officials added that about 6.5 million homes in Florida, two-thirds of the total, are without power after Hurricane Irma cut a deadly path through the state.