A Kiwi living in Florida has described scenes of desperation as people rush to prepare for deadly Hurricane Irma.

Chad Bennett, originally from South Auckland, will face the worst of the weather alone after his wife and 1-year-old daughter evacuated Lighthouse Point, a coastal city near Fort Lauderdale, earlier this week.

Despite a mandatory evacuation of the area, Bennett had to stay behind for work and to hurricane-proof his house. He said it was too late to leave now.

"My main concern was that my wife and baby were safe. I had to stay for work and I was like 'get out and go now, don't wait for me'," he said.

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Kiwi expat Chad Bennett with his wife Carrie and their daughter Indiana, 1. Photo/Supplied
Kiwi expat Chad Bennett with his wife Carrie and their daughter Indiana, 1. Photo/Supplied

The 42-year-old video editor said he has seen locals fighting over the last piece of wood, used to board up homes, at the local hardware store.

"People have been honking horns. People are getting angry because they are beginning to stress and get scared about what is going to potentially happen.

"There are a lot of people still rushing to the supermarket at the last minute. Water is coming off the shelves...they've had water come in every couple of days and there are just people waiting with shopping carts, lined up to go get their water."

Bennett said there were also queues of cars at petrol stations and trying to leave the city.

"Petrol is pretty much running dry.

"[Everyone has been] told to get the hell out of here...as soon as possible."

But he said he had also seen a lot of people trying to help one another out.

Hurricane Irma, which has killed at least 23 people, according to The Guardian, was expected to hit Florida in the early hours of Sunday morning, local time.

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Bennett has covered the windows of his house with shutters and plywood. Photo/Supplied
Bennett has covered the windows of his house with shutters and plywood. Photo/Supplied

Bennett has been putting up storm shutters, covering glass windows with plywood and unplugging electronic equipment at his house, which is about 5km from the beach.

He planned to move further along the coast before the hurricane hits, to stay with his wife Carrie's grandfather, who lives in a house with a new roof and generator.

"It is one of those storms that they say can rip your roof off," he said.

Bennett had also put all of his important documents including passports and insurance policies in ziplock bags, which he would take with him.

He said local authorities were expecting the hurricane to bring trees and power lines down and waves to reach between 10 and 12 ft (3 to 3.6m).

The Kiwi moved to the US in 2009 to live with his American wife Carrie.

Carrie and their daughter Indiana were expected to stay in South Carolina with her family, until the hurricane had passed.

Bennett said his biggest concern was damage to his home, which he hoped would still be standing after the hurricane.