Irma, now a Category 2 hurricane, hits Naples

Top Tri State News
Top Tri State News
Author

13 September, 2017

FPL Saturday lowered the number of homes and businesses it expects to lose power to 3.1 million customer accounts, or 6 million people in its service area, which is half the state.

For days, forecasters had warned that Irma was taking dead aim at the Miami metropolitan area and the rest of Florida's Atlantic coast.

Hurricane Irma began to slowly move away from north-central Cuba late Saturday afternoon, after buffeting the island's coast with category-five winds and rain. That would have put the hurricane over the east coast of Florida.

Calling the situation an "obvious state of emergency", Rick Scott said that Florida has been very aggressive in its preparation for the storm, but he said locals will have to deal with its impact, including downed power lines and trees and blocked roads due to flooding.

But because the storm is up to 640km wide, the entire Florida peninsula was exposed.

Hurricane warnings for all of Florida.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, whose diocese was hit by flooding from Hurricane Harvey, noted that people in the Caribbean already had "felt Hurricane Irma's full force". On Friday, the utility had estimated that 4.1 million accounts or 9 million people would lose power in the storm.

Building off the tongue-and-cheek of their "don't shoot" tweet, the Pasco Sheriff's office took a more serious tone on urging Twitter users to instead volunteer their time at evacuation shelters.

However, Irma remains a very unsafe Category 2 storm with 110 miles per hour sustained winds near the center. A tropical storm warning was issued for the first time ever in Atlanta, some 200 miles from the sea.

Irma's center was over water off Key West early Sunday, but places including Miami were being hit with strong winds and rain.

Many residents in Miami were without power on Sunday morning.

Irma was smacking the Keys 57 years to the day that Hurricane Donna hit the same area in 1960, destroying almost 75 per cent of the island chain's buildings.

"We try to get rid of most of the debris, seeing as we're going to be facing Jose in a few hours", Brooks said.

GlobalMedic, a Canadian disaster relief charity, was also preparing to send aid items to the island and others struck by the brunt of the storm - St. Maarten and St. Martin, Anguilla, St. Barts and Turks and Caicos.

Construction sites across Irma's potential path in Florida were locked down to remove or secure building materials, tools and debris that could be flung by Irma's winds.

The death toll from Hurricane Irma has risen to 22 as the storm continues its destructive path through the Caribbean.

"Dangerous winds will follow quickly", police said in a Facebook post.

Other crops may be spared Irma's wrath, but it'll depend on the storm's course, which is still uncertain.

"This will no doubt be one of the most complex, not just in our company's history but in the history of this country, in terms of restoration", he said. Much of the state's east and west coasts, plus Georgia and parts of SC were still vulnerable to storm surges and forecast to receive up to 41cm of rain as it passed over.


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