Irma begins assault on Florida Keys

Tuesday, 12 Sep, 2017

After gathering strength over the warm water between Cuba and Florida on Saturday night, Hurricane Irma made landfall in the U.S. mainland shortly after sunrise on the Florida Keys - the small chain of islands off the southern tip of Florida.

These are some of the videos emerging from of the storm at its most intense and rising floodwaters.

- Storm surge warnings in Florida, Georgia and SC mean "there is a danger of life-threatening inundation", the hurricane center said.

The island chain south of mainland Florida took the brunt of Hurricane Irma when it struck land as a Category 4 storm Sunday morning, and officials there are still assessing the damage. However, with more than 6.5 million account holders sitting in the dark, the vast majority of outages are in the Sunshine State, according to Florida Power & Light, Florida's largest electric utility company. A storm surge of up to 4 feet was expected for Tampa Bay, lower than originally forecast.

The National Weather Service in Atlanta issued a tropical storm watch for the area Monday and Tuesday.

St. Petersburg-based Duke Energy, with almost 1.8 customer accounts, was working to restore power to 1.2 million customers. More than one million residents have no power.

"We feel it was more risky to travel all over the state, run out of fuel possibly".

Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi says relief will arrive on a C-130 military plane Monday morning at the Key West International Airport.

If the current track holds, the Midlands would get gusty winds, flash flooding, and most importantly, a risk of severe storms, including tornadoes.

In the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said 95 percent of buildings were either destroyed or severely damaged.

While Irma was a bad hurricane, it was not the worst hurricane Florida has ever seen, not by a long shot. "There's devastation. I just hope everybody, you know, survived".

"If you own a power washer. imagine taking it in the face", said CNN's Bill Weir of the torrential rain in Key Largo, some 70 miles south of Miami. In Georgia, 540,000 residents were told to leave the coast, while in SC, almost 45,000 people were ordered to evacuate.

Irma set all sorts of records for brute strength before crashing into Florida, flattening islands in the Caribbean and swamping the Florida Keys.