Miss Florida Says 'We Can Get Through Anything Together' as Miss America Broadcast Urges Viewers to Donate to Hurricane Irma Relief
The pageant will also keep viewers informed of breaking news and updates as Irma continues to batter Florida
Several times throughout the show, hosts Sage Steele of ESPN and Chris Harrison from The Bachelor are sharing ways viewers can help with relief efforts for both Irma, which will continue to rip through Florida into Monday morning, and Hurricane Harvey, which recently devastated Texas.
And Miss Florida Sara Zeng spoke from the heart at the top of the broadcast.
“I’m just so worried about everyone there, but I’m so happy that some of my family and friends are here right now and that they’re safe,” she said. “And I’m thinking about everyone in Florida every single day, but I know no matter what happens, we are strong and we can do it. We can get through anything together.”
People can visit the Red Cross’ website or call 1-800-RED-CROSS or 1-855-999-GIVE with their donations. They can also text Irma to 90999 or text Harvey to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
The live airing will also keep viewers informed of breaking news and updates as Irma continues to batter Florida.
Contestants and judges will also have the opportunity to record a video dedicated to the strong people of Florida who are affected by the hurricane on the red carpet.
This year’s judging panel also includes People and Entertainment Weekly editor Jess Cagle, Olympic figure skater Tara Lipinski, model-actress Molly Sims, TV host Maria Menounos, American Idol winner Jordin Sparks and country singer Thomas Rhett.
Before winning a preliminary round of the Miss America competition, Miss Texas Margana Wood sent her “love” to the Hurricane Harvey survivors in her hometown of Houston. The 22-year-old said that she was “excited” to be on the competition stage in Atlantic City, New Jersey, but was thinking of home.
“My heart is absolutely with the people of Houston,” Wood told reporters after the show, according to the Associated Press. “I send my love to all of them. We’re taking it day by day.”
Irma made landfall at 9:10 a.m. ET at Cudjoe Key, Florida, packing maximum sustained winds of 130 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.
Florida residents who are hunkering down are already documenting its impact on social media, sharing videos of flooded streets, collapsed cranes and fallen trees.
Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses have lost power, according to the Associated Press. The Miami-Dade Police Department announced Sunday morning that they were pulling deputies from off the streets and would briefly be unable to respond to emergency calls.
At least four deaths were reported in Florida in relation to the hurricane.
RELATED VIDEO: Hurricane Irma Targets Tampa
Irma — one of the strongest storms ever recorded on the Atlantic — has killed at least 24 people in the Caribbean islands, according to CNN.
Another hurricane, Jose, strengthened to an “extremely dangerous category 4” storm, the National Hurricane Center said on Friday.