Hurricane Irma is barreling up the Sunshine State, bringing heavy rainfall and powerful winds. The deadly hurricane, which is now a Category 2 storm with sustained winds of 100 miles per hour, was moving east of the Tampa metro area.
Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys, has reported two deaths. Hardee County has also reported two deaths so far and one person died in a single-vehicle crash in Orange County. At least 27 people were killed in the Caribbean.
Millions of Floridians are under orders to evacuate, and many are desperately seeking shelter from the storm. As the monster storm neared, about 6.5 million Floridians were under mandatory and voluntarily evacuation orders. Evacuations were ordered in Georgia and South Carolina as well.
Over 116,000 people are in 530 shelters across Florida to ride out the storm. 30,000 people are in shelters in Miami-Dade alone.
But others decided to hunker down at home bracing for Irma’s impact.
Some 3.5 million Floridians were without power on Sunday.
“We have a dog and there were not that many shelters that accepted dogs,” she said, adding, “We didn’t want to be that far away from our home.” While she and her son stay inside the shelter, her husband is hunkering down with their dog at home.
Irma made its second landfall on Marco Island along the southwest Florida coast this afternoon with 115 mph winds after battering the Florida Keys earlier today.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned residents of dangerous storm surges that could reach 10 to 15 feet above sea level in the Naples area.
“Do not think the storm is over when the wind slows down,” Scott said Saturday. The dangerous storm surge “will rush in and could kill you.”
There have already been four deaths reported in Florida, including a man in Monroe County, which encompasses Key West. He was killed after he lost control of a truck that carried a generator as winds whipped at tropical-storm strength, officials said.
Tampa, which is now experiencing wind gusts of over 50 mph, is in the predicted path of the storm, and the city’s mayor Bob Buckhorn did not mince words when he warned residents on Twitter earlier today.
“We are about to get punched in the face by this storm. We need to be prepared,” he wrote.