Hurricane Irma heading to Tampa

Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm early Monday as it spun northward through Florida, but forecasters warned of hazardous storm surges and "some wind gusts to near hurricane force". Only Hurricane Hugo's direct hit in 1989 and a 1940 hurricane that hit a short way down the coast pushed higher seas.

According to a 2015 report from the Boston-based firm Karen Clark and Co., Tampa Bay is the most vulnerable place in the nation to storm surge from a hurricane, and stands to lose $175 billion.

Gwinnett County could feel a bit of those winds - and a tropical storm warning was issued Sunday morning.

Irma triggered evacuation orders for 5.6 million people before it made two landfalls in the Florida Sunday.

A Florida woman gave birth to her baby as Hurricane Irma swept through the state.

The storm is plowing into Georgia and others parts of the Deep South - Alabama, Tennessee and the Carolinas - bringing the danger of life-threatening storm surge and hazardous winds. In the Caribbean, at least 24 were people were killed during Irma's destructive trek across exclusive islands known as the vacation playground for the rich.

"With the potential for Hurricane Irma's impact on our community, the decision was made so that our first responders can prepare for the effects of Hurricane Irma and ensure they are available to respond to any storm-related incidents around the county", county spokesman Joe Sorenson said in a statement. They also have asked the federal government to kick in 11 million meals and millions more liters (gallons) of water, plus almost 700 cases of baby supplies.

"I think now, with what's happened with the hurricane, I'm going to ask for a speedup".

The day after Hurricane Irma made landfall here, attacking with downpours and 120 miles per hour winds, residents were assessing the wreckage and deciding what to do next.

Parts of southwestern Florida are forecast to see storm surge inundation of 10 to 15 feet above normal tide levels.

Forecasters said it could hit the heavily populated Tampa-St.

It's forecast to spin in a slow circle in the Atlantic Ocean for the next few days, before possibly turning back toward the United States. Motorists heading inland from the Tampa area were allowed to drive on the shoulder.

The Keys were already taking punches from Irma on Saturday.

Long said his biggest concern is when people fail to listen to early warnings from local government officials and then try to make a last-ditch effort to try to get to a shelter or another facility that will withstand severe winds.

Hurricane-strength winds later were recorded in the northern half of Camaguey province, the agency said. The streets were almost empty, shops were boarded up and the wind started to blow.

The Goodland native bought the home in 1998 when it was a "dump", she said. "Tonight, I'm sweating. Tonight, I'm scared to death". During the afternoon, it rounded Florida's southwestern corner and hugged the coast closely as it pushed toward Naples, Sanibel, Fort Myers and, beyond that, Sarasota, at 14 miles per hour (23 kph).

Florida's governor activated all 7,000 members of the Florida National Guard, and 10,000 guardsmen from elsewhere were being deployed.

- Disney World was forced to close, for only the sixth time in its 45-year history.

Curfews were imposed in Miami, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and much of the rest of South Florida, and some arrests of violators were reported. Two of the river city's main bridges were closed until further notice.

After watching Hurricane Harvey devastate Houston, many did. At least 34 people were left dead in the storm's wake across the Caribbean. This time, he and his girlfriend left their home in Big Pine Key and fled north for Orlando. But they say residents should be on high alert anyway.

  • Leroy Wright