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Florida residents emerge onto hurricane-scarred and flooded streets
12 September 2017, 01:32 | Christie Tate
Tom Bossert at the White House podium
City officials in Tampa are conducting a damage assessment on homes across the city.
Tybee Island City Manager Shawn Gillen said waters were receding quickly, but numerous 3,000 residents' homes were flooded. Emergency crews made rescues throughout the night.
Shuyi Chen, a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, said the weather phenomena is common during extreme storm conditions like Hurricane Sandy in 2012. "We need to be prepared", Buckhorn said.
Irma was expected to strike the Florida Keys at daybreak Sunday.
The storm - which has been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm - now moves toward the northwest, likely to strike southern states on Monday, according to CNN.
Nearly 7 million people - more than a third of the state's population - have been ordered to evacuate.
The first one was over the Florida Keys, which Irma hit as a Category 4 hurricane.
Looting broke out on the island, French and Dutch authorities said Friday, and security forces were deployed to deal with the problem.
"It's the worst storm I've ever seen", said Bill South, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration tropical weather program meteorologist.
The tweet has been soliciting a major response from citizens thanking the police for their hard working during the devastating storm, which has claimed more than 20 lives.
The next 24 hours will prove crucial in determining Irma's impacts on the Florida peninsula and its possible strength once it reaches northern Florida and Georgia Monday.
Forecasters said a weakened Irma could push into Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and beyond. More than 100,000 customers were without power in Georgia and over 80,000 in SC.
The new course threatens everything from Tampa Bay's bustling twin cities to Naples' mansion- and yacht-lined canals, Sun City Center's retirement homes, and Sanibel Island's shell-filled beaches.
A flurry of high-rise condos and hotels and even a seaside hospital have been erected along the coast in recent years, despite the threat posed by sea level rise.
It's now around 40 miles south-east of Key West - as parts of Florida are already being lashed by strong winds and heavy rain. He said progress would be "measured in weeks, not days". No injuries have been reported.
- About 6.2 million electric customers were without power in Florida late Monday, according to Floridadisaster.org. FEMA chief Brock Long has said some places won't have electricity for weeks.
"A severe storm with the right track orientation will cause an enormous buildup of water that will become trapped in the bay and inundate large areas of Tampa and St. Petersburg".
Havana residents remained without water supplies and phone connections and schools were closed until further notice.
- Disney World was forced to close, for only the sixth time in its 45-year history.
On Florida's west coast, resident Charley Ball said he expected a storm surge to completely engulf the island of Sanibel where he lives.
France said 10 people died on its side, while the Netherlands said the storm killed four on the Dutch side, called Sint Maarten, where 70 percent of the infrastructure has been destroyed.
Most Keys residents had followed mandatory evacuation orders, but there were some holdouts who had to hunker down as Irma tore over the island chain popular for fishing and scuba diving.
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Hurricane Irma: What you need to know
Irma is expected to drop 2 to 5 inches of rain across SC and northern portions of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. Miami International Airport, one of the busiest in the country, halted passenger flights through at least Monday.