Economy

Hurricane Irma Hits Florida Sunday Morning

Hurricane Irma Hits Florida Sunday Morning”

Even that, however, could bring unsafe flash flooding and storm surges in many populated areas, our Havana correspondent says.

Now a tropical storm with sustained winds of up to 70 miles per hour (110 km per hour), Irma was located about 35 miles (56 km) west of Gainesville and headed up the Gulf Coast, the National Hurricane Center said at 8 am ET (1200 GMT).

Irma continues to pound Florida with rain and wind as the storm moves north into Georgia, South Carolina and the Mid-Atlantic area.

The hurricane warning for Florida's east coast has been pushed further north to Fernandina Beach, with the hurricane watch further north to Edisto Beach.

"This is going to be a frustrating event". State media reported that people took shelter in tunnels, caves and official emergency shelters. The storm has prompted flooding in Miami and left millions without power.

Florida emergency management officials have asked another 700,000 to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irma.

Governor Rick Scott said there was serious threat of "significant storm surge flooding" along the entire west coast of Florida.

Evacuation and aid efforts are in progressing across much of the Caribbean, with France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom already having boots on the ground. American Airlines said flights in Miami, where it has a huge base, were expected to resume on Tuesday.

The storm has been blamed for more than 40 deaths, including six in Florida. But by the time Irma arrived in the middle of the night Monday, its winds were down to 100 miles per hour (161 kph) or less.

It submerged the highway that connects the isolated Florida Keys archipelago with the mainland and flooded streets between Miami office towers. Temples have also been opened up to help people and Amma Kitchen has been serving free food to those coming in from Florida.

At least 1.6 million Florida homes and businesses had lost power, according to local electricity companies.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told an investor conference in NY that the storm would ultimately boost the economy by sparking rebuilding.

"This is the worst one I've ever seen", Teague said.

"Several of the deaths caused by Irma came as people started cleaning up and making repairs". At least 36 people died in the storm's wake across the Caribbean.

No evacuations had been declared yet in neighboring SC, which hasn't had a major hurricane strike in almost 28 years.



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