Irma be­gins Florida siege

Toron­to­ni­ans on aid mis­sion in St. Maarten

StarMetro Toronto - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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.

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