(Vatican Radio) 8 people were killed when Hurricane Irma pounded Puerto Rico and neighouring Caribbean Islands on Thursday on its way to Florida.
Puerto Rico was left in darkness and Antigua and Barbuda were also hard hit.
The plane flying Pope Francis to Colombia had to change its flight path to avoid the Category 5 Hurricane.
The NHC said it was the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean and one of the five most forceful storms to hit the Atlantic basin in 82 years.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been stepping up preparations for Hurricane Irma even as the agency continued the massive recovery effort in storm-battered Texas.
The US House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed $7.9 billion in Harvey disaster relief as warring Republicans and Democrats united to help victims of the storm in Texas and Louisiana.