Some Kiwis directly in the path of the devastating Hurricane Irma have decided to stay as hundreds of thousands evacuate the state of Florida.

Irma, which has already caused the deaths of at least 22 people, has been re-upgraded to a category 5 storm as it approaches the United States' western coast.

More than 5.6 million people have been asked to evacuate Florida with officials saying it is now inevitable the state will be hit.

Kiwis Michelle Perfito and her 5-year-old daughter Serenity aren't leaving Florida despite it being in the path of one of the biggest hurricanes in US history. Photo / supplied
Kiwis Michelle Perfito and her 5-year-old daughter Serenity aren't leaving Florida despite it being in the path of one of the biggest hurricanes in US history. Photo / supplied

Michelle Perfito, who is originally from Auckland but has been living in Florida for the past six years, said she and her family, including 5-year-old daughter Serenity, had decided to stay put.

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"We're just been hearing horror stories of people getting stuck on the road with no petrol because the gas stations are all out. We lined up for two hours to get petrol and we were lucky to get some, so we decided to stay."

The family had boarded up their Cape Coral house, which was two streets away from the mandatory evacuation zone.

They would see out the storm at a nearby friend's double-storey house, which had been built to hurricane shelter standards.

"We figure if the roof blows off we're on the ground floor and if the storm surge comes through we're on the top floor."

The Perfito family home, marked here with an X, is just two streets away from the mandatory evacuation zone. Photo / supplied
The Perfito family home, marked here with an X, is just two streets away from the mandatory evacuation zone. Photo / supplied

The usually vibrant community felt "like a ghost town" with at least half its residents having left.

The most shocking thing had been watching the whole state "go crazy".

"There's been no petrol to put in your car, there's no water on the supermarket shelves, someone got stabbed with a screwdriver over a generator just across the river from us. People are frantic."

Winds were expected to increase overnight (NZT) while the worst of the storm was expected to hit Monday (NZT).

The Perfitos were preparing for about 10 days without electricity or water, filling up baths, freezers and other containers with water and stocking up on non-perishabls.

The Perfito family's local supermarket shelves were completely empty of water ahead of Hurricane Irma. Photo / supplied
The Perfito family's local supermarket shelves were completely empty of water ahead of Hurricane Irma. Photo / supplied

Perfito's brother, meanwhile, was the captain of a multi-million dollar superyacht and had spent the last two days getting it out of the water and into storage. However, the storm recently changed its path away from his boat and towards his sister's family.

While her parents were anxious, Serenity couldn't be more excited about having a stormy sleepover.

"She thinks it's going to be a blast having a sleepover."

Meanwhile, Tauranga man Dale Armit was more laid back about being in the path of the huge storm.

Since February Armit has been living and working in the Florida city Tampa, which was until yesterday supposed to be missed by the worst of Irma.

"Most of my friends have evacuated, either because they were in zones where they needed to go but others just decided to get out of town anyway," he said.

"We thought we were going to be fine ... and it was only 24 hours ago we found out it was going to be bad here. Now all the hotels are sold out from here to Atlanta.

He and his Kiwi friends had sandbagged their front doors and stocked up on food and water.

"Really we've just gone and bought a lot of alcohol and are preparing to spend a lot of time drinking and hanging out inside," he said

If things got really bad, his house had an interior bathroom with no windows where they could seek refuge.