13 September, 2017
As local and state officials braced for a storm that has broken records for its size and long-lasting strength, forecasters continued to warn of an impending turn by Hurricane Irma away from Cuba and toward Florida's west coast.
"You can't survive these storm surges", he said.
The massive storm triggered evacuation orders for 5.6 million people before it made two landfalls in the state Sunday.
An estimated 170,000 people were lodged in some 650 emergency shelters as of early evening, according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Tropical Storm Irma, which weakened Monday morning, is now threatening Georgia and Florida's capital city, Tallahassee. At least 36 people were left dead in the storm's wake across the Caribbean. The second one hit Marco Island, leaving the entire island without water and power, authorities said.
Some customers may experience more than one outage throughout the duration of the event, and prolonged outages may occur, especially if Irma's impact requires rebuilding part of the electric system before power can be restored. "What's going to happen now?" For about a week, Hurricane Irma was thought to be taking aim along the Atlantic Coast near Miami, and would go straight up the coast, but instead, it is turning late, is going to parallel the Gulf Coast and then come on shore, potentially in the Naples-Fort Myers area or even as far north as Tampa.
By Sunday morning, the eye is expected to be near the Florida Keys and the southern Florida peninsula.
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The whole of the southern tip of Florida has seen high winds, driving rain and storm surges. "We have to wait till all the elements pass through", he said.
A state of emergency is declared for all of Georgia's 159 counties.
"We're asking folks to be patient and remain sheltered in place", said St. Augustine Fire Chief Carlos Aviles.
Irma is plowing into Georgia and toward other parts of the Deep South - Alabama, Tennessee and the Carolinas.
The challenges in the immediate aftermath of the storm will be many: Restoring across the state, removing debris from roads, dealing with possible fuel shortages, and making sure nursing home and hospital patients who were evacuated can safely return.
Miami and other heavily populated areas of southeastern Florida are on the worst side of the storm.
"There is the danger of life-threatening storm surge flooding along portions of the coasts of Florida, Georgia and SC, where a Storm Surge Warning remains in effect". Petersburg area had braced for the first direct hit from a major hurricane since 1921.