Florida (September 11, 2017): Downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, Irma flooded several northern Florida cities with heavy rain and high storm surge on Monday as it headed out of the state after cutting power to millions and ripping roofs off homes.
Irma, once ranked as one of the most powerful hurricanes recorded in the Atlantic, hit a wide swath of Florida over the past day, first making landfall on the Florida Keys archipelago and then coming ashore south of Naples and heading up the west coast.
The now-tropical storm, with sustained winds of up to 110 km/h, was located about 56km west of Gainesville and headed up the Gulf Coast, the National Hurricane Center said at 8 a.m. ET.
The sheriff’s office in Jacksonville, on Florida’s north-east coast, reported that it was making a rescue from waist-deep water on Monday morning and urged people to stay off unsafe roads.
The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for the city. As officials and residents began to assess the damage around the state, Governor Rick Scott said he would travel later on Monday to the keys.
Irma first came ashore at Cudjoe Key as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of up to 215km/h.
A large military airborne relief operation was being prepared to take help to the islands, which are linked by a dramatic series of bridges and causeways from Key Largo almost 160 km south-west to the city of Key West, Monroe County Emergency Director Martin Senterfitt told a teleconference.