Hurricane Irma Update as it Devastates Florida, Heads to Georgia and South Carolina
After slamming into Florida as a Category 4 storm Hurricane Irma has weakened to a tropical storm but still poses a threat to Florida residents. It is currently heading north and is expected to impact South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and other nearby states. Officials say death toll from Irma could mount in the coming days as the extent of damage becomes apparent.
Hurricane Irma updates – Here is what has happened so far.
More than six million Floridians without power
More than six million Florida residents are reported to be without power this morning. Officials with the state Division of Emergency Management said the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better.
Approximately 83 per cent of Monroe County which includes the Florida Keys and Everglades National Park, is in the dark Monday morning. The National Hurricane Center said the storm is expected to become a tropical depression by Tuesday.
42 dead from Hurricane Irma
Officials report that Hurricane Irma has killed 42 people so far – 5 in Florida and 37 in the Caribbean. The number is expected to rise in the next few days when officials say they will be able to do a full assessment of Irma’s damage once the winds die down.
This morning, Florida officials said a storm surge is occurring in the Jacksonville area, exceeding the record set during Hurricane Dora in 1964. A flash-flood warning is also in effect for Jacksonville as officials expect water to flow in from the St. Johns River.
House to house search in Florida
Crews are going house to house in Florida Keys looking for survivors of Hurricane Irma who may need help. Irma slammed into the island chain Sunday morning and destroyed roadways and isolated many residents who did not heed warnings to evacuate.
The eye of Irma came ashore in the middle of Florida Keys with all the power of a Category 4 hurricane causing waterways to swell to an estimated 15 feet in some areas.
“We have been busy just trying to get information out there to the people, to put them in the proper places to try to save their lives,” National Weather Service’s Bill South said. Mr. South stayed behind in Key West to work with first responders.
South said the hardest hit areas are between Big Coppit Key and Marathon with the island of Big Pine Key taking the hardest hit from Irma. The roads have been washed out. Debris and road destruction have isolated Big Pine from the other Keys.
Michala Laufle, who rode out Irma in the Keys said that “Irma has officially passed and this is what she left,” She admitted being scared during the storm but said she is glad she didn’t evacuate.
“For those people who left, they don’t know when they’re getting back in — it might be another two weeks, so now that we’re here we can actually start to take care of the problem and rebuild and clean up and go from there,” Laufle said.
200,000 Floridians in shelters
Florida Red Cross officials told the media this morning that about 200,000 residents sought refuge from Hurricane Irma in shelters throughout the state over the weekend.
A spokeswoman for the American Red Cross said an additional 8,000 stayed in shelters in five other states, as well as in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Charleston under a tornado warning
The Nationla Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for Charleston, South Carolina until 1 p.m. ET. “At 1237 PM EDT, a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado was located near Fort Sumter, moving northwest at 60 mph,” the alert said.
— SCEMD (@SCEMD) September 11, 2017
“Tornadoes from tropical storms or hurricanes can form and move very quickly. TAKE COVER IMMEDIATELY!” the National Weather Service warned in a bulletin.
Official said Miami avoided a “Houston situation”
An official with the city of Miami said his city avoided a “Houston situation” because of the city’s good drainage system.
City commissioner Ken Russel admitted parts of the city were submerged but is already drying up unlike what happened in Houston, Texas. “We have a porous oolite limestone and we have very good draining systems. Those roads are already dry, for the most part,” he said.
Houston received 52 inches of rain during and after Harvey made landfall in Texas a few weeks ago.
Georgia, other states brace for Irma
As Irma heads out of Florida, officials in Georgia are bracing for the hurricane expected to dump many inches of rain on the state in the coming days.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has already declared a state of emergency for all 159 counties in the state as Irma bears down. Cities like Atlanta are under tropical storm watch until Tuesday.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency for all 100 counties in his state ahead of Irma and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued a mandatory evacuation for barrier islands. In Alabama, some school districts including Birmingham, Huntsville and Auburn plan to close today and probably Tuesday.
NHC discontinues Storm Surge Warning from Bonita Beach southward
The National Hurricane Center has discontinued storm surge warnings for Bonita Beach southwards, including Lake Okeechobee, Olusia/Brevard County line southward, south of Anclote River.
NHC said storm surge warning remains in effect for South Santee River southward to the Flagler/Volusia County line, North of Bonita Beach to the Ochlockonee River and Tampa Bay areas. A tropical storm warning is still in effect for Anclote River to the Okaloosa/Walton County Line and North of the Volusia/Brevard County line to the South Santee River.
Irma made 7 landfalls
Hurricane Irma made an astonishing 7 landfalls, all of them as a major hurricane, according to officials.
— Marshall Shepherd (@DrShepherd2013) September 11, 2017
— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) September 11, 2017
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