Irma knocks out power to 5.5M homes, businesses - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Irma knocks out power to 5.5M homes, businesses

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - The Latest on Irma (all times local):
    
12:30 p.m.
    
More than 5.5 million homes and businesses are without power in multiple states as Tropical Storm Irma moves through the Southeast.
    
The vast majority were in Florida. Eric Silagy, the CEO of Florida Power & Light, said Irma caused the most widespread damage in the company's history. It affected all 35 counties in the utility's territory which is most of the state's Atlantic coast and the Gulf coast south of Tampa.
    
He said about 4 million homes and businesses were without power at noon Monday, affecting about 9 million people. The most extensive damage was likely in the Naples area, but a full assessment was ongoing. He said 19,500 electric workers have been deployed in the restoration effort.
    
Still, he said, it will take days for many people to be restored and, in some cases where the damage was extensive, weeks.
    
Meanwhile, Duke Energy reported Monday morning that more than 860,000 of the homes and businesses it serves in Florida were without power.
    
Georgia reported more than 570,000 homes and businesses without electricity, and there were 80,000 in South Carolina.
    
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11:55 a.m.
    
A resident riding out Tropical Storm Irma on Georgia's largest public beach says some homes have been damaged but the destruction isn't as bad as he feared.
    
Chip Clayton was driving the roads Monday as Irma's winds and rainfall lashed Tybee Island, home to more than 3,000 people east of Savannah. Clayton said at least three homes had parts of their roofs or porches torn away and some roads were flooded. Ocean waters had begun washing away chunks of the protective dunes along the beach.
    
But Clayton said "for the most part, everything's fine. ...We thought it would be a lot worse."
    
Chatham County emergency management director Dennis Jones, whose area includes Savannah and Tybee Island, said Monday that Irma's impacts should ease up by Monday evening.
    
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11:50 a.m.
    
Kelly McClenthen and boyfriend Daniel Harrison put on waders to enter her neighborhood in Bonita Springs after Irma, and they needed them.
    
About 5 feet of river water stood under her home, which is on stilts. The main living area was fine, she said, but everything on the ground level was destroyed. She said her washer and dryer were floating in her utility room.
    
The same area flooded during a storm about two weeks ago, Harrison said, and that cleanup was still a work in progress. Now they'll start over, but Harrison said they'll get through it.
    
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11:40 a.m.
    
Jacksonville, Florida, authorities are telling residents near the St. Johns river to leave quickly as floodwaters rise.
    
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office warned people in evacuation zones A and B along the St. Johns River to "Get out NOW."
    
They say river is at historic flood levels and likely to get worse at high tide around 2 p.m.
    
On its Facebook page, the sheriff's office told those who need help evacuating to "put a white flag in front of your house. A t-shirt, anything white."
    
Rescue teams were ready to deploy.
    
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11:35 a.m.
    
A Miami-area grocery store drew a crowd when it said it was reopening, but it disappointed a line of people it lacked key staples: bottled water and ice.
    
Workers at a Publix supermarket in Miami Lakes said the store would be opening Monday morning and that it would be "close to fully operational."
    
A line formed outside the store before its planned 10:30 a.m. opening. The delay in opening, officials said, was because of the time needed to get enough workers in place to run the store.
    
But when a manager came out and said there was no ice and no bottled water, 19 people standing in line left.
    
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11:30 a.m.
    
A longtime resident of Florida's Marco Island said Hurricane Irma was the strongest storm he's seen in three decades of living there.
    
Rick Freedman and his wife rode the storm out the island where Hurricane Irma made its second landfall Sunday afternoon as a Category 3 storm. They were uninjured, but he said the damage around them was striking.
    
A couple doors down from his house, much of a neighbor's roof blew off. He said the island was covered with debris Monday morning.
    
He and his wife spent Sunday in a neighbor's house with sturdy concrete block construction, and that house suffered little damage. He said his own wood-frame house on stilts appears to have little if any interior damage, but the storm ripped off an exterior stairway to the front door and blew off some roof shingles.
    
At the storm's height he described "tremendously, tremendously powerful winds."
    
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11:20 a.m.
    
Tropical Storm Irma is gradually losing its strength as it sloshes through northern Florida with the National Hurricane Center discontinuing four storm surge and tropical storm warnings.
    
Irma's maximum sustained winds were down to 65 mph (100 kph) as the storm was about 70 miles (115 km) east of Tallahassee late Monday morning. It's moving north northwest at 17 mph (28 kph).
    
Forecasters expect Irma's center to move into southwestern Georgia later Monday and then into Alabama Tuesday morning and eventually western Tennessee.
    
Northern Florida and southern Georgia should keep getting soaked, with rain totals eventually accumulating to 8 to 15 inches. Isolated parts of central Georgia, eastern Alabama and southern South Carolina may get up to 10 inches of rain.
    
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10:55 a.m.
    
Officials say at least one tornado has been reported in coastal Georgia as strong winds and drenching rains from Tropical Storm Irma hammer the state.
    
Glynn County emergency officials had no immediate reports of tornado damage. They said in news release Monday that residents who didn't evacuate need to shelter in place. They said causeways linking St. Simons Island and Sea Island to the mainland are closed because of flooding, and other roads are flooded as well.
    
Gov. Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency for all of Georgia. Irma's center was forecast to cross the Georgia-Florida line Monday afternoon but tropical storm winds were extending more than 400 miles (640 kilometers).
    
The National Weather Service placed most of Georgia under a tropical storm warning.
    
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10:20 a.m.
    
Tropical storm Irma is drenching the Georgia coast, and forecasters say flooding is a serious threat.
    
Downtown Savannah was getting soaked Monday morning, with winds just strong enough to rustle treetops and shake small branches onto the roads. Impacts from the storm were expected throughout the day.
    
The National Weather Service said the threat of storm surge had decreased Monday along Georgia's 100 miles (160 kilometers) of coast, but flooding rains could still cause swollen rivers, streams and creeks to overflow.
    
Irma was forecast to cross the Georgia-Florida line Monday afternoon. Though downgraded to a tropical storm, its winds reached up to 415 miles (668 kilometers) from the center.
    
Georgia Power said more than 125,000 customers were without powers across Georgia's six coastal counties.
    
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10:00 a.m.
    
Firefighters on one of South Carolina's largest barrier islands are now staying inside until the worst weather from Tropical Storm Irma passes.
    
Hilton Head Island said on Twitter that it suspended emergency operations at 9 a.m. Monday until the winds and storm surge subside. They say they will only go on calls if a supervisor allows them because conditions are too dangerous.
    
The island of 42,000 people is under an evacuation order. Forecasters warn wind gusts around 60 mph (95 kph) and storm surge of up to 6 feet (2 meters) are possible later Monday.
    
Similar storm surge and winds gusts are possible up to coast to Charleston too.
    
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9:45 a.m.
    
Actress Kristen Bell says she's "singing in a hurricane" while riding out Irma in Florida.
    
The "Frozen" star is in Orlando filming a movie and staying at a hotel at the Walt Disney World resort. She stopped by an Orlando middle school that was serving as a shelter and belted out songs from "Frozen."
    
Back at the hotel, Bell posted pictures on Instagram of her singing with one guest and dining with a group of seniors.
    
Bell also helped out the parents of "Frozen" co-star Josh Gad by securing them a room at the hotel.
    
Bell tells Sacramento, California, station KMAX-TV - where her father is news director - that the experience is her version of one of her favorite movies, "Singin' in the Rain."
    
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9:30 a.m.
    
People are being rescued from flooded homes Monday morning south of Jacksonville, Florida, as Tropical Storm Irma pounds the state with rain and wind.
    
John Ward, the emergency operations manager of Clay County, says crews have pulled 46 people from flooded homes by early Monday and an undetermined number are still stranded as the area's creeks and ponds are getting record flooding.
    
Ward says between 400 and 500 homes received severe flood damage but there have been no serious injuries or deaths.
    
Irma weakened to a tropical storm Monday morning, a day after hitting the state as a powerful Category 4 hurricane.
    
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9:05 a.m.
    
An Atlanta airport official says there've been around 800 cancellations due to the threat of Irma, which weakened to a tropical storm Monday morning.
    
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport spokesman Andrew Gobeil says the airport will still be operational Monday and will monitor storm conditions.
    
Gobeil says the airport created an overflow parking plan to allow planes unable to land in areas such as Florida to park at the airport in Atlanta.
    
Also in Atlanta, the city's transit system has suspended all bus and rail service ahead of the weather conditions caused by Irma.
    
Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority spokesman Erik Burton says both systems will be closed for Monday. He says officials will continue to coordinate with state and local officials along with emergency personnel to determine MARTA's service schedule for Tuesday.
    
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9:05 a.m.
    
Much of central Florida, including Orlando, suffered significant damage as Irma blew through Sunday night and into Monday morning.
    
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said Monday morning that there's been widespread damage and significant power loss throughout the area.
    
Jacobs said approximately 300,000 residents in Orlando are without power. She also said 60 percent of the fire stations are operating on backup generators and dispatchers received 1,381 calls between Sunday at midnight and 5:45 a.m. Monday morning.
    
Residents are being asked to minimize usage such as flushing toilets, bathing, along with washing dishes and laundry.
    
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8:30 a.m.
    
Irma is causing record-setting flooding in Jacksonville, Florida, as it moves over the state Monday on its way to southern Georgia.
    
The National Weather Service in Jacksonville says storm surge flooding exceeds the record set in 1965 during Hurricane Dora.
    
The city on Florida's northeastern Atlantic coast remains under a flash flood warning until 12:45 p.m. Monday.
    
Jacksonville Sheriff's officials warned residents not to drive through standing water, adding that in addition to flooding, there are trees and power lines down across the area.
    
Irma weakened to a tropical storm Monday morning, a day after hitting the state as a Category 4 hurricane.
    
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8:30 a.m.
    
Florida Gov. Rick Scott says there's damage across the state caused by Hurricane Irma and it's still too dangerous for residents to go outside or return from evacuation.
    
Scott said Monday on Fox News that he's concerned about flooding now unfolding in Jacksonville and the amount of damage in the Florida Keys. The governor will be flying out of Mobile, Alabama, on a U.S. Coast Guard plane down to the Keys where he plans to inspect the extent of the damage there.
    
Local officials in the Keys on Sunday warned of a humanitarian crisis due to Irma's winds and storm surge.
    
Scott asked Floridians to be patient and warned that roads are impassable and that there are downed power lines.
    
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8:30 a.m.
    
Two children evacuated from Florida as Hurricane Irma approached have been killed in separate car crashes in Georgia.
    
News outlets report Woodstock police say 3-month-old Riley Hunt of Port St. Lucie, Florida, was struck by an SUV driven by a 17-year-old girl Saturday night and was later pronounced dead. DeKalb County police say an 11-year-old boy who was also traveling from Florida to Georgia was hit and killed by a car early Monday in Stone Mountain.
    
The identity of the boy hasn't been released, and the cause of the crash is currently unknown.
    
The Cherokee County Sheriff's Office says Hunt's mother, 28-year-old Kaitlyn Hunt, and 61-year-old Kathy Deming were also hit and are listed in critical condition. The incident remains under investigation. No charges had been filed.
    
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8 a.m.
    
Irma has weakened to a tropical storm as it moves over Florida toward southern Georgia.
    
The storm's maximum sustained winds decreased Monday morning to near 70 mph (110 kph). The U.S. National Hurricane Center says it's expected to weaken to a tropical depression by Tuesday afternoon.
    
Irma is centered about 105 miles (170 kilometers) north-northwest of Tampa, Florida, and is moving north-northwest near 18 mph (30 kph).
    
Irma hit southern Florida on Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane, bringing roof-ripping winds, gushing floodwaters and widespread power outages.
    
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7:45 a.m.
    
The National Guard and local fire rescue teams evacuated more than 120 flooding homes in Orange County, just outside Orlando, as Hurricane Irma moves over Florida.
    
Trees and power lines were down across town and floods cut off roads to a neighborhood.
    
As the sun rose in Orlando, many tried to go outside to survey the damage, but authorities warn that conditions remain dangerous and ask that people to abide by the curfew that lasts throughout most of the day.
    
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7:45 a.m.
    
Winds and rain from Hurricane Irma have moved into South Carolina and officials are warning residents to be very careful throughout the day.
    
A hurricane watch is in effect Monday from Edisto Beach into Florida. A storm surge warning and a tropical storm warning are in effect from near Georgetown into Florida.
    
A flash flood warning is in effect along the southern coast of South Carolina, where more than 40,000 were ordered to evacuate barrier islands.
    
The storm surge could reach 6 feet (2 meters), especially from late morning to mid-afternoon. Up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain is also possible.
    
Wind gusts of up to 60 mph (97 kph) are expected along the South Carolina coast. Forecasters say tornadoes are also possible.
    
South Carolina Electric & Gas reported more than 13,000 customers without service Monday morning.
    
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7:45 a.m.
    
The European Union says it has released 2 million euros ($2.4 million) to help the Caribbean islands hit hardest by Hurricane Irma.
    
EU's humanitarian aid commissioner, Christos Stylianides, announced the assistance Monday, saying the money will go to key sectors such as health, water and sanitation and waste management.
    
The EU has already been involved in the emergency relief effort, and Stylianides said the bloc stands ready to provide longer-term assistance as well. He called it "our moral duty to help those in need whose lives and homes are being destroyed or severely threatened."
    
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7:10 a.m.
    
Nearly 4.5 million homes and businesses across Florida have lost power as Hurricane Irma moves over the state.
    
And utility officials say it will take weeks to restore electricity to everyone. Farther north, more than 100,000 are in the dark in Georgia.
    
Much of eastern Alabama and coastal South Carolina are under tropical storm warnings as Irma pummels Florida, weakening on its march northward.
    
The National Hurricane Center predicts the storm will cross Monday into southwest Georgia, where a hurricane warning was in effect for a large rural area including the cities of Albany and Valdosta.
    
Rain already is falling in parts of the state, including metro Atlanta, early Monday.
    
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7 a.m.
    
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says that while the city hasn't escaped Hurricane Irma's wrath, the situation isn't as bad as they had feared.
    
Speaking Monday morning on MSNBC, Buckhorn said "What we thought was going to be a punch in the face was a glancing blow."
    
Buckhorn did say there are a lot of downed power lines and debris.
    
He said Tampa's officials have vehicles positioned "to be sure that when that surge comes in we can keep people out of the streets."
    
He said he expected power to be out for some sections of Tampa for at least a couple more days.
    
Hurricane Irma is getting weaker as it moves over the western Florida peninsula after hitting the state Sunday as a Category 4 storm.
    
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6:45 a.m.
    
Police in Miami are investigating reports of people looting stores as Hurricane Irma hit the state.
    
On Sunday night, Miami police took two people into custody and detained two others.
    
Deputy Police Chief Luis Cabrera told the Miami Herald the officers went to the Shops at Midtown on Sunday afternoon as the winds of Hurricane Irma were at their strongest in South Florida. Cabrera says a group in a white truck hit multiple locations. Police have also received additional reports of looting in the city.
    
Police had issued a curfew Saturday night, partly to ward off looters by giving officers probable cause to stop anyone for being on the street during the storm.
    
Cabrera didn't have specific details about the looting incidents.
    
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6:45 a.m.
    
The British government is defending its response to Hurricane Irma amid claims it has been slow to help its overseas territories devastated by the storm.
    
The British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and the Turks and Caicos islands were all pummeled by the hurricane last week, leaving thousands without electricity or shelter.
    
Opposition politicians have compared Britain's response unfavorably to that of France, which has sent more than 1,000 troops, police and emergency workers to St. Martin and St. Barts.
    
Britain has dispatched a navy ship and nearly 500 troops, including medics and engineers.
    
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Monday that Britain had responded strongly to an "unprecedented catastrophe." He says the government will soon increase the 32 million pounds ($42 million) it's pledged to the relief effort.
    
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6:30 a.m.
    
Police in Lakeland, Florida, say a family with small children was rescued from a car that was submerged in water as Hurricane Irma crossed the area.
    
Lakeland police said in a Facebook post that officers rescued the family of four early Monday as water reached the children's car seats. No one was injured and police were able to get the family back to their home.
    
"When you become a police officer you hope to make a difference in the lives of others," the Facebook post said. "Tonight, there is no doubt these officers made a difference."
    
Lakeland is between Tampa and Orlando, off of Interstate 4.
    
Hurricane Irma is getting weaker as it moves over the western Florida peninsula after hitting the state Sunday as a Category 4 storm.
    
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6:30 a.m.
    
A Florida sheriff's sergeant and a paramedic were trapped in a sheriff's vehicle when a live power pole fell on the cruiser as they were returning from dropping off an elderly patient as Hurricane Irma moved over the state.
    
Polk County spokesman Kevin Watler said in a news release that Sgt. Chris Lynn and Polk County Fire Rescue paramedic James Tanner Schaill were trapped for about two hours late Sunday.
    
Crews from Lakeland Electric crews disconnected the lines around 1:15 a.m. Monday. Both men have returned to their jobs to continue assisting hurricane recovery efforts.
    
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6:10 a.m.
    
More than 120 homes are being evacuated in Orange County, just outside Orlando, as floodwaters from Hurricane Irma started to pour in.
    
The Orange County Emergency Operations Center said early Monday that the fire department and the National Guard are going door-to-door using boats to ferry families to safety. No injuries have been reported. The rescued families are being taken a shelter for safety.
    
A few miles away, 30 others had to be evacuated when a 60-foot sinkhole opened up under an apartment building. No injuries were reported in that incident.
    
Hurricane Irma is getting weaker as it moves over the western Florida peninsula after hitting the state Sunday as a Category 4 storm.
    
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5 a.m.
    
Hurricane Irma is getting weaker as it moves over the western Florida peninsula early Monday.
    
Irma hit Florida on Sunday as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, hammering much of the state with roof-ripping winds, gushing floodwaters and widespread power outages.
    
By Monday morning, Irma had weakened to a Category 1 hurricane with winds near 85 mph (135 kph). Additional weakening is forecast and Irma is expected to become a tropical storm over northern Florida or southern Georgia later in the day.
    
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4:45 a.m.
    
Dutch search and rescue experts are heading to the shattered former colony of St. Maarten to support the humanitarian relief effort in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
    
A team of 59 urban search and rescue experts is flying Monday to the Dutch territory that's home to some 40,000 people, where 70 percent of homes were badly damaged last week by a direct hit from the Category 5 storm. Four people were killed and dozens injured.
    
The Dutch government also is sending extra troops to maintain order following widespread looting and robberies. The government says there are already nearly 400 extra troops in St. Maarten and that number will rise to some 550 over the next two days.
    
Dutch King Willem-Alexander is expected to visit the island Monday to show his support for local residents and the emergency services working to restore infrastructure and begin the process of reconstruction.
    
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2 a.m.
    
Irma weakened to a Category 1 storm as the massive hurricane zeroed in on the Tampa Bay region early Monday after hammering much of Florida with roof-ripping winds, gushing floodwaters and widespread power outages.
    
The hurricane's maximum sustained winds weakened to 85 mph (135 kph) with additional weakening expected.
    
As of 2 a.m. EDT, the storm was centered about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Tampa and moving north-northwest near 15 mph (24 kph).
    
Irma continues its slog north along Florida's western coast having blazed a path of unknown destruction. With communication cut to some of the Florida Keys, where Irma made landfall Sunday, and rough conditions persisting across the peninsula, many are holding their breath for what daylight might reveal.
    
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An earlier version of this report, incorrectly said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's comments were made on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show.
    
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HURRICANE NEWSLETTER - Get the best of the AP's all-formats reporting on Irma and Harvey in your inbox: http://apne.ws/ahYQGtb

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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