More than 40,000 special ‘sandless sandbags’ are well on the way to Florida as the sunshine state braces itself for the most powerful ever Atlantic Ocean hurricane.

FloodSax – devised and manufactured by Yorkshire company Environmental Defence Systems – are now en route.

EDS managing director Richard Bailey said: “We are trying our best to get them there as quickly as possible but supply routes are already being hampered by the destructive power of Hurricane Irma.

“There is a real fear out there about the rainfall and flooding the hurricane will bring, let alone the terrible power of its 185mph winds. FloodSax have been deployed in hurricanes before, most notably when Hurricane Sandy battered New York in 2012 and proved themselves then.”

The photograph shows how effective the FloodSax were against the water and debris it kept out of people's homes when Hurricane Sandy struck.

Hurricane Irma is now battering the Caribbean islands, as British tourists are evacuated from the region amid warnings the storm will be "potentially catastrophic".

The island of Barbuda was the first to bear the brunt of Hurricane Irma - a category five storm  - early on Wednesday, churning along a path pointing to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba before possibly hitting Florida over the weekend.

Hurricane Irma has already caused "major damage" on several Caribbean islands, blowing the roofs off buildings, causing flooding and cutting communications.