Irma begins Florida siege
Torontonians on aid mission in St. Maarten
A monster Hurricane Irma roared into Florida with 210 km/h winds Sunday for what could be a sustained assault on nearly the entire Sunshine State, submerging streets, knocking out power to millions and snapping massive construction cranes over the Miami skyline.
The 640-kilometre-wide storm blew ashore in the morning in the mostly cleared-out Florida Keys and then began a slow march up the state’s west coast. Forecasters said it could hit the heavily populated Tampa-St. Petersburg area early Monday.
“Pray, pray for everybody in Florida,’’ Gov. Rick Scott said on Fox News Sunday as more than 160,000 people statewide waited it out in shelters.
Irma struck as a Category 4 but by late afternoon had weakened to a Category 2 with 177 km/h winds that whipped Florida’s palm trees with drenching squalls. A storm surge of over 10 feet was recorded in the Keys, and forecasters warned some places on the mainland could get up to 15 feet of water.
There were no immediate confirmed reports of any deaths in Florida, on top of the 24 people killed during Irma’s destructive trek across the Caribbean.
Many streets were flooded in downtown Miami and other cities. In the low-lying Keys, boats were reported sunk and appliances and furniture were seen floating away, but the full extent of Irma’s fury there was not clear.
A Miami woman who went into labour was guided through delivery by phone when authorities couldn’t reach her in high winds and street flooding. Firefighters later took her to the hospital.
An apparent tornado spun off by Irma destroyed six mobile homes in Palm Bay, hundreds of miles away along the state’s Atlantic coast. Flooding was reported along Interstate 4, which cuts across Florida’s midsection.
Hurricane Irma makes landfall on Sunday, lashing Florida with 200 km/h winds as it moves up the coast. JOE RAEDLE GETTY IMAGES
a boat is washed on shore at the Watson island marina in Miami, Fla., as Hurricane irma passed through the area on Sunday.