The once Category 5 hurricane slammed the Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm with 130 miles per hour winds early Sunday around 8 a.m. causing storm surges of 15 feet at times as the storm ripped through the Keys and sent massive winds of just under 100 miles per hour towards Miami International Airport.
Millions of people huddled in shelters or battened-down homes in Florida yesterday as Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the Atlantic, hit the state with 210kph winds.
Over 7.4 million homes and businesses were without power in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama because of Hurricane Irma, according to state officials and utilities on Monday.
President Donald Trump declared a major disaster in the state of Florida, making federal aid available to people affected by Irma in nine counties already suffering the impact of Irma.
The center of Hurricane Irma passed the Florida Keys Sunday, inundating the islands with a deadly storm surge and ferocious winds.
A storm surge of more than 2 metres in 90 minutes is being reported from Naples, while forecasts predicted waters could rise to 4.5 metres above ground level.
Southwest Florida is sometimes called “surge central” by storm experts.
– Strong winds blowing from the northeast have pushed water out of shallow parts of bays and harbors in cities like Tampa and Port Charlotte.
Currently, there are over 1 million homes without electricity in Florida.
Gusts topping 90 miles per hour whipped Miami on Sunday, knocking out power to more than 750,000 customers in the Miami-Dade area.
The area was expected to feel the full brunt of Irma starting at around 7am to 8am (midday Irish time).
The Fort Myers evacuations began in the days leading up to Irma’s landfall in Florida, where emergency centers operated around the clock to disseminate storm updates through the journalists who remained behind to keep the public informed. Photo: Joe Raedle/GETTY Debris blown around by high winds is seen in the street as hurricane Irma arrives on September 10, 2017 in Miami, Florida.
Many streets were underwater in downtown Miami and other cities. The extent of the damage Irma caused on the Keys was not immediately clear.
The NHC has put out a hurricane warning and a tropical storm warning stretching through nearly all of Florida into Georgia and SC, home to more than 20 million people.
Tropical Storm Irma weakened as it moved inland across southwestern Georgia on Monday, but was still capable of severe wind damage and flooding.
There have also been dozens of tornado warnings througout the state of Florida.
State media reported that people took shelter in tunnels, caves and official emergency shelters.
Last month, Hurricane Harvey devastated much of coastal Texas and killed more than 70 people.