Tallahasee: (September 10, 2017) Hurricane Irma bludgeoned Florida on Sunday, snapping trees like matchsticks and turning Miami streets into rivers. And there’s plenty more damage to come.
Three storm-related deaths have been reported in Florida. Irma has already devastated parts of the Caribbean, killing at least 28 people.
Irma made landfall on Marco Island off Florida’s west coast with winds of up to 120mph (192km/h) but has since been downgraded to a category two storm. And there’s plenty more to come as the storm climbs the coast toward Tampa.
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The storm hit Marco Island at 15 Water levels are rapidly rising in Naples as the storm churns north. In the past three hours, water levels there have risen about 9 feet, the National Hurricane Center said.
The storm’s impact was widespread. Even areas that didn’t face a direct hit from Irma saw flooding and downed power lines. In Riviera Beach, on Florida’s east coast, winds partially ripped roofs off two apartment buildings, forcing rescuers to evacuate about 50 people from the complex, the city’s mayor said.
Expected to be even more dangerous than the powerful winds are the storm surges that threaten Florida’s coastal cities.
Hurricane Irma first made landfall in the Florida Keys on Sunday morning, then made landfall in the state again Sunday afternoon when it hit Marco Island.
“The threat of catastrophic storm surge flooding is highest along the southwest coast of Florida, where 10 to 15 feet of inundation above ground level is expected,” the hurricane center said. “This is a life-threatening situation.Still, not everyone heeded orders to evacuate coastal Florida.
Gusts topping 90 mph whipped Miami on Sunday, knocking out power to more than 750,000 customers in the Miami-Dade area.
Flying objects such as coconuts turned into dangerous projectiles. And at least one construction crane snapped, swinging vigorously over downtown Miami.
More than 1.69 million electric customers across 31 counties are without power, Florida Power and Light said Sunday morning.