FOX5KRBK.com - (9/11/2017)
After devastating several Caribbean Islands, Hurricane Irma slammed into the Florida Keys Sunday morning as a Category 4 storm and then made a second landfall on Marco Island, just south of Naples, as a Category 3 hurricane. Irma then churned up the Florida peninsula, high winds and heavy rain affecting nearly the entire state.
Now... emergency crews are surveying the damage with downed trees, power lines, and debris clogging roadways. Governor Rick Scott giving this warning, "Just because the storm passed it's not safe. we have power lines down, we've got...debris all over the state."
Marco Island taking some of the worst of the damage from the category 3 winds, drone video showing some homes in the area completely destroyed and water covering some of the roads.
More than 7 million homes and businesses are reported to be without power, and even with thousands of crews on the ground officials are warning it will likely take days or even weeks to get the lights back on to everyone. And in some areas it is still too dangerous to even assess the damage. Florida's Emergency Management Director, Bryan Koon saying they won't have a comprehensive look at the damage for a while.
Throughout Florida some 220 thousand people are now in emergency shelters
The Florida Keys were hit especially hard with 130 mph winds knocking some homes from their foundations. Hundreds of buildings suffered roof damage and boats broke away from docks, many getting seriously banged up or destroyed. Officials are warning there is currently no fuel, running water, power, or cell service across most of the Keys. Door to door searches began this morning. Residents like Daniel Harrison, showing resilience, "We got a heck of a storm, we weathered it out and stuff, we got a lot of damage, a lot of cleanup, but we will get through it, no doubt."
Anxious residents waiting for the chance to return home and see what is left.
Local officials are ramping up their rescue and recover operations with serious threats remaining in cities like Tampa and Jacksonville due to flooding. Downtown Jacksonville water logged this morning with as much as 4 to 6 feet of water covering the streets. Daytona Beach also seeing storm surge flooding and wind damage through the area. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry telling residents, "If you need to get out, please put what represents a white flag. Anything white somewhere on your house that can be viewed visibly from outside."
Even Miami, which was spared the eye of the storm, still seeing several feet of storm surge and damaging wind gusts throughout the day Sunday. Some streets and homes still under water today.
One interesting, and slightly unexpected impact from Irma, affecting the Tampa bay area Sunday morning. As the storm approached, the winds spinning around the storm actually pushed water away from shore causing the bay to seem to drain out for a couple of hours. As the storm passed by, water rushed back into the bay and caused some coastal flooding.