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'Worst-case scenario' as Hurricane Irma makes landfall in Florida

'Worst-case scenario' as Hurricane Irma makes landfall in Floridaā€¯

Irma's breadth was massive, with hurricane-force winds extending about 80 miles from its center, and tropical-storm-force winds extending about 220 miles.

About 9 million people in Florida may lose power, some for weeks, said Florida Power & Light Co, which serves nearly half of the state's 20.6 million residents.

"There is a danger of life-threatening storm surge inundation in southern Florida and the Florida Keys during the next 36 hours", the weather service said Friday.

Irma hit Puerto Rico on Wednesday night after smashing a string of small northern Caribbean islands, leaving many residents without power.

With the arrival of what is potentially one of the most devastating storms to ever hit Florida, officials have set aside 3.2 million liters - 0.85 million gallons - of water, filled 67 trailers with meals, and amassed 24,000 tarps. "You need to be afraid of the storm surge! People are not listening".

Irma hit Florida on Sunday morning as a unsafe Category 4 storm, the second highest level on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale, but by afternoon as it barreled up the west coast, it weakened to a Category 2 with maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour (177 kph). The Miami-Dade Police Department announced Sunday morning that they were pulling deputies from off the streets and would briefly be unable to respond to emergency calls.

"The wooden pier is basically gone", said Steven Schlacknam, a 51-year-old visual artist watching from a 37th floor apartment.

The Republican governor said on NBC that he spoke to President Donald Trump, and "everything I've asked out of the federal government, he's made sure he gave us". "We do have backup generation", FPL spokesman Rob Gould said on Sunday.

At least 30 deaths are already attributable to the storm.

But after a week of making and changing evacuation plans, Dionna Duncan, 48, on Saturday morning simply opted to leave her home in Palm Harbor, Florida.

Irma, which prompted one of the largest evacuations in US history, is expected to cause billions of dollars in damage to the third-most-populous USA state, a major tourism hub, with an economy comprising about 5 percent of US gross domestic product.

"All of America continues, I must say, to pray for the families affected by Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, which looks like it's going to be a really bad one, but we're prepared", Trump said.

Just in case some people didn't understand the joke, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office tweeted late Saturday: "DO NOT shoot weapons @ (hashtag) Irma". Roofs could be seen flying off and trees were blown down as the wind gusted and roared.

There were no immediate reports of casualties in Cuba but it caused significant damage, and enormous waves lashed the Malecon, Havana's emblematic seafront, with seawaters penetrating deep into the capital.

Risky storm surges are expected along Florida's west coast, the NHC said.

The swing in the hurricane's projected path overnight caught many on Florida's Gulf coast off guard.



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