Published: Tue, September 12, 2017
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Irma Becomes Tropical Storm, Still Lashing Florida, Georgia

Irma Becomes Tropical Storm, Still Lashing Florida, Georgia

Massive cleanup: Mayor Bill Barnett says trees are down and streets are flooded, even though the storm surge wasn't as bad as officials feared.

Hurricane Irma has knocked out power to about 7.3 million homes and businesses in the US Southeast, mostly in Florida, according to state officials and local electric utilities. He said it may result in an economic boom for parts of Florida as people rush to help with the recovery effort, but less so for places like Savannah, when historic architecture is destroyed and can't be recovered.

- Almost 4 million electric customers are without power across Florida, according to utility companies. Emergency crews made rescues throughout the night.

Expected to be even more risky than the powerful winds are the storm surges that threaten Florida's coastal cities.

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"We stocked the pantry all up, we got the freezer full, we got the generator running the freezer and refrigerator so we're not going to lose food there", Witt said.

The hurricane weakened slightly to a Category 4 hours later, swirling some 245 miles (395 kilometers) away from Miami and packing still powerful maximum sustained winds of 155 miles per hour, according to the US National Hurricane Center. About 5,000 of the Keys' 30,000 permanent residents stayed to ride out the storm, Florida Keys spokesman Andy Newman said.

Hurricane Irma shifted its deadly course toward Florida's west coast Saturday morning after slamming into Cuba as a Category 5 storm overnight. It was smacking Naples after coming ashore in Marco Island at 3:35 p.m.

It has since been downgraded to a tropical storm.

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"Our first concern is with the losses people have suffered", he said. Heavy rainfall also is possible, but the threat of flash flooding is low.

It will likely dissipate from Tuesday evening, the National Hurricane Centre said. The rainfall could be between 8 to 16 inches in parts of Georgia, 3-12 inches in western SC, and western North Carolina and about 2 to 5 inches in eastern Alabama and southern Tennessee, reported Heavy. More than 100,000 customers were without power in Georgia and over 80,000 in SC.

- Strong winds blowing from the northeast have pushed water out of shallow parts of bays and harbors in cities like Tampa and Port Charlotte.

"As soon as the wind shifts direction, the water will come back quickly and continue to move inland", CNN meteorologist Judson Jones said. In a sign of the sheer size of Irma, hurricane warnings extend northward into South Central Georgia and tropical storm warnings reach nearly to the Georgia/Tennessee state line.

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