The county administrator in the Florida Keys says crews will begin house to house searches Monday morning, looking for people who need help and assessing damage from Hurricane Irma.
Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi says relief will arrive on a C-130 military plane Monday morning at the Key West International Airport.
Once it’s light out, they’ll check on survivors. They suspect they may find fatalities.
Gastesi says they are “prepared for the worst.”
Hurricane Irma made landfall Sunday morning in Cudjoe Key.
The U.S. Departments of State and Defense are working on evacuation flights from Sint Maarten after Hurricane Irma.
Officials say U.S. citizens in need of evacuation should shelter in place until Monday, listening for radio updates, and then go to the airport by noon, bringing proof of citizenship and just one small bag.
The State Department adds that a Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ship has left the island.
More than 3.3 million homes and businesses — and counting — have lost power in Florida as Hurricane Irma moves up the peninsula.
The widespread outages stretch from the Florida Keys all the way into central Florida.
Florida Power & Light, the state’s largest electric utility, said there were nearly 1 million customers without power in Miami-Dade County alone.
The power outages are expected to increase as the storm edges further north.
There are roughly 7 million residential customers in the state. (edited)
Hurricane Irma’s top sustained winds have dropped to 105 mph. That’s still a Category 2 storm, meaning extensive damage will occur.
Masters says that if Irma’s center had shifted just 20 miles to the north as it moved past Cuba, it could have hit the mainland United States as a Category 5.
Two manatees were stranded after Hurricane Irma sucked the water out of Sarasota Bay, in Florida’s Manatee County.
Several people posted photos of the mammals on Facebook Sunday, hoping rescue workers or wildlife officials would respond. Michael Sechler posted that the animals were far too massive to be lifted, so they gave them water.
Marcelo Clavijo posted that a group of people eventually loaded the manatees onto tarps and dragged them to deeper water.
Hurricane Irma set all sorts of records for brute strength before crashing into Florida, flattening islands in the Caribbean and swamping the Florida Keys.
It finally hit the mainland as a big wide beast, but not quite as monstrous as once feared. The once-Category 5 storm lost some of its power on the northern Cuba coast.
It’s still raking Florida with devastating storm surges, winds and rain. Its top sustained winds are now 110 mph (177 kph) and the center of the storm is about 15 miles (25 kilometers) inland from Fort Myers.
It’s been difficult to determine the extent of damage Hurricane Irma caused in the Florida Keys, where communication has been difficult and authorities are warning boaters and drivers to stay away.
But The Associated Press has been texting with John Huston, who has been riding out the storm in his house on Key Largo, on the Atlantic side of the island, just south of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.
Every few minutes during the height of the storm, he sent another dispatch.
He described whiteout conditions, with howling winds that sucked dry the gulf side of the narrow island, where the tide is usually 8 feet deep. He kept his humor though, texting to “send cold beer” at one point. Now he sees furniture floating down the street with small boats.
He says the storm surge was at least 6 feet deep on his island, 76 miles from Irma’s eye. He can see now that structures survived, but the storm left a big mess at ground level.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office says water began leaking through the roof at the Germain Arena shelter in Estero just as the eye of Hurricane Irma drew near.
Thousands of evacuees have crowded into the minor-league hockey stadium, which seats about 8,400 people and is being used as a shelter.
The sheriff’s office posted on Facebook that authorities are monitoring the problem.
Florida officials are urging people to stay in their homes and shelters, even if it looks like Hurricane Irma has passed.
Miami-Dade County spokesman Mike Hernandez said he’s seen reports of people leaving the county’s hurricane shelters. It’s too early for that, he says: “Just because it seems like the weather is clearing up, that doesn’t mean it’s safe to get out on the roads.
Miami Dade remains under curfew, much of it without electricity, and with downed power lines, flooding and poor visibility, moving around could be deadly.
An airborne relief mission is bringing emergency supplies to the Florida Keys, where Hurricane Irma made landfall Sunday morning.
Monroe County spokeswoman Cammy Clark said help is coming in C-130 cargo planes and other air resources.
Monroe County Emergency Management Director Martin Senterfitt calls it a humanitarian crisis.
Hurricane Irma should be moving directly over the Tampa Bay area around midnight. Residents of the highly populated area are fearing the worst.
A report by CoreLogic, the global property data firm, found nearly 455,000 Tampa Bay homes could be damaged by storm surges, the most of any major US metro area other than Miami and New York. Rebuilding those homes could cost $81 billion.
The reason Tampa Bay is so vulnerable is that the bay acts as a funnel for storm surges, forcing water into narrow channels with nowhere else to go.
The National Hurricane Center reports water levels are rising rapidly in Naples from Hurricane Irma’s storm surge. A federal tide gauge in Naples reported a 7 foot rise of water in just 90 minutes.
A wind gust of 142 mph (229 kph) was recorded at the Naples Municipal Airport as the storm kept its top sustained wind speed of 110 mph (175 kph).
Irma has picked up forward speed and is moving inland at 14 mph (22 kph) and its eye is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south southeast of Fort Myers.
Lauren Durham and Michael Davis had big plans for a beach wedding this month. Hurricane Irma had bigger plans.
So instead of a poofy white dress, Durham got married in her Air National Guard fatigues, with no makeup, in a vast hangar filled with rescue vehicles in Orlando. Davis is a senior airman in the guard, like his bride, so they had called to say they’d miss their own wedding.
Then on Sunday, a friend joked that they should get married during the hurricane. Dozens of people helped out, and a fellow guard member happens to be a notary and officiated. Someone even came up with a bouquet of flowers.
The happy couple believes in service before self, and besides, they figure it’ll be a great story to tell their kids one day.
President Donald Trump has declared a major disaster in the state of Florida, making federal aid available to people affected by Hurricane Irma in nine counties already hit by the storm.
The federal help includes temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans for uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover in the counties of Charlotte, Collier, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Pinellas, and Sarasota.
Federal funding also is available to governments and non-profit organizations for emergencies in all 67 Florida counties. For the first 30 days, that money will cover 100 percent of the costs of some emergency responses.
President Donald Trump says the U.S. may have gotten a “little bit lucky” after Hurricane Irma veered from its original course and headed west along Florida’s coast.
He says Irma may not have been quite as destructive as a result, but that things will play out over the next several hours.
Trump addressed reporters Sunday after returning to the White House from Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland where he spent the weekend monitoring the storm.
Trump says Irma will cost “a lot of money” but he isn’t thinking about that right now.
He says “right now, we’re worried about lives, not cost.”
Trump says he’ll be having additional meetings about coordination for the storm response.
Hurricane Irma has weakened to a Category 2 storm, technically losing its major hurricane status, after making landfall in southwestern Florida. It is over land but hugging the coast as it moves north.
The National Hurricane Center said Irma’s winds were at 110 mph (177 kph), just below major hurricane status, as the center of the still dangerous and wide storm moved farther inland. It was 5 miles (8 kilometers) north of Naples late Sunday afternoon. It came ashore on Marco Island at 3:35 p.m.
The hurricane center says “although weakening is forecast, Irma is expected to remain a hurricane at least through Monday morning.”
The hurricane center says the eye of Irma should hug Florida’s west coast through Monday morning and then push more inland over northern Florida and southwestern Georgia on Monday afternoon. The forecast puts the storm generally over the populated Tampa-St. Petersburg region a couple hours after midnight into Monday morning.
Jeff Masters is meteorology director of the private Weather Underground. He says the fact that the storm approached the Tampa region from over land and from the south could slightly reduce the expected storm surge, although he says it will still be dangerous.
Irma is producing deluges of 2 to 4 inches (5 to 13 centimeters) of rain an hour, which can cause flash flooding.