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Floridians return to storm-battered homes as Irma flooding spreads

13 September 2017

Pictures from Barbuda show exactly what Irma is capable of doing.

In Houston, still recovering from Hurricane Harvey which hit just over two weeks ago, people continued to return to their homes, though an analysis by the New York Times found that flood water in two areas of the city has been contaminated by toxins and bacteria. One to fifteen foot storm surges are expected along the west coast of Florida, from Marco Island to the Florida Keys. Irma was moving along the north coast of the islands early Saturday morning. Another man was killed after he lost control of a truck that carried a generator as winds whipped at tropical-storm strength, officials said. Late Sunday morning, it was all officers on duty.

Silagy advised FPL customers not to become complacent because Irma's predicted track has shifted west.

Life-threatening storm surge and damaging winds are the likely main threats in the coming hours all across Florida's west coast.

Roofs ripped off: CNN's team in Key Largo saw some areas devastated by the storm, with roofs torn off mobile homes in one neighborhood. Large trees could be snapped or uprooted. However, roads remain closed because of debris.

Storm surge: The surge and tide at Fort Pulaski along the Savannah River brought waters to more than 12 feet, the second-highest on record - just below the surge level past year during Hurricane Matthew. They warned residents not to venture outside and many Florida cities have been forced to evacuate and issue curfews.

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The neighbouring Bahamas escaped the hurricane's wrath mostly unscathed, with no reports of casualties or major damage.

Forecasters also predict storm surges of up to 15 feet in southwestern Florida and rainfall up to 25 inches in the Keys. Residents in low-lying areas are urged to move to higher ground. Worsening conditions spawned a tornado warning in parts of northeastern Broward County and knocked power for 83,000 residents in South Florida.

High winds and rains are pounding South Florida.

At 6:43 a.m. Saturday, Irma was located about 430 miles southeast of the mouth of Tampa Bay and about 340 miles southeast of Fort Myers.

The Shoals will start experiencing some of Hurricane Irma's winds today as the storm system continues tracking upward into Alabama.

Gusts to 115 miles per hour - which is considred a major Category 3 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale - are possible. Movement was to the west-northwest at 12 miles per hour.

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Hurricane Irma's path of destruction up Florida's Gulf Coast on Sunday threatens to disrupt a thriving state tourism industry worth more than $100 billion annually just months ahead of the busy winter travel season. The center of Irma is forecast to be near the Florida Keys in the morning and approach the southwest coast Sunday afternoon.

The National Hurricane Center warned of possible tornadoes along the SC coast overnight.

It's not over, and hurricanes are under no obligation to follow forecast tracks or cones of uncertainty.

"We evacuate for storm surge, not wind", hurricane center storm surge specialist Jamie Rhome said. Tropical-storm force winds pounded the islands, pushing storm surge ashore.

Neighboring South Carolina was also preparing for potential in landlocked counties while Gov. Henry McMaster rescinded parts of an order requiring coastal health facilities to move patients inland.

Irma expected to weaken to tropical depression by Tuesday afternoon
At least two dozen people died in the storm there and reports suggested almost all buildings on some islands had been destroyed . He noted that FEMA was continuing to rescue people stranded by flooding around Jacksonville , in the state's northeast.

Floridians return to storm-battered homes as Irma flooding spreads