Health Care

Florida bracing as Irma makes landfall

Florida bracing as Irma makes landfall”

Hurricane Irma cut a swath of destruction through the Caribbean before moving slowly northwest toward Florida's west coast, where it is expected to make landfall Sunday.

"We could see millions of people without power in Florida for multiple days in some areas, maybe weeks, and so I think it's very important to set the expectations of citizens", Long told CNN's Rene Marsh at his agency's headquarters in Washington on Saturday. Risky storms surges expected in areas of onshore winds along the Florida west coast.

There were at least four deaths.

The widespread outages stretch from the Florida Keys all the way into Central Florida. None of the incidents was linked conclusively to the storm.

The President just approved a major disaster declaration for Florida, according to the White House.

Sunday's dizzying sequence of stormy weather saw dual landfalls by the hurricane over a span of little more than six hours.

Manatee County is enforcing a curfew from 3 p.m. today until 3 p.m. tomorrow and St. Petersburg is under a curfew that begins at 5 p.m. today. "This is the most catastrophic storm the state has ever seen".

"MOVE AWAY FROM THE WATER!" appealed the National Hurricane Center after photos on social media showed people and dogs frolicking on the bay's exposed sand.

Still, at about 400 miles (640 kilometres) wide, it raked much of the state with devastating storm surge, destructive winds and drenching rains before weakening.

Deputy Indian Ambassador to US Santosh Jha said over the last 48 hours the main preoccupation has been to get in touch with Indians in all parts of southern US and in the islands in the western Atlantic.

Streets emptied across the bottom half of the Florida peninsula, and some 116,000 people waited it out in shelters. Party stretches including Duval Street in Key West and Ocean Drive in Miami Beach were shuttered.

Amid the storm's ravages came small points of light.

The woman and her baby girl were taken to Jackson Hospital later in the morning when conditions were safe enough for authorities to reach her. "Evacuate now. Not tonight, not in an hour, you need to go right now". Ominously, the Caloosahatchee River's level dropped sharply, its lowered tide likely heralding a storm surge. She said: "I'm afraid of what's going to happen". Lorca, a construction worker, said he was quick to prepare for the storm when he first heard about it: boarding up his windows, picking up cash from the bank, and buying water, gas, ice, food and - most importantly - wine and beer. City officials said it would have taken about two weeks to move the cranes. "This is our first hurricane - we don't have this kind of thing".

Tampa Electric may be forced to shut down some equipment ahead of Irma's expected high winds and potential storm surge.

As other Florida residents flee north to escape the monstrous Hurricane Irma, Peggy Monahan has remained behind despite numerous warnings to leave.

The storm is now headed toward the southwestern tip of the state, then up along the coast to Naples, Fort Myers and the densely populated peninsulas of Tampa Bay on Florida's west coast.

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