The Latest: Irma weakens into a tropical depression
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on Irma (all times local):
The National Hurricane Center says Irma has weakened into a tropical depression.
The storm, located about 5 miles (10 kilometers) west of Columbus, Georgia, is still bringing heavy rain to the U.S. Southeast on Monday night.
Irma is expected to drop 2 to 5 inches of rain across South Carolina and northern portions of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.
Irma’s top sustained winds are 35 mph (55 kph), and it is moving northwest at 15 mph (24 kph).
The hurricane center has discontinued all storm surge and tropical storm warnings.
Authorities say a Florida man appears to have been electrocuted by a downed power line following Irma.
Winter Park police spokesman Garvin McComie says officers responded Monday morning following reports of a man lying in the roadway.
The officers determined that 51-year-old Brian Buwalda was dead at the scene. A medical examiner will determine an official cause of death, but McComie says it appears to be an accident.
Winter Park is in Orange County, just of Orlando.
The storm has been blamed for more than 40 deaths, including six in Florida.
A Florida woman was killed when her SUV crashed into a guardrail as Irma approached the state.
A Florida Highway Patrol report says 50-year-old Heidi Zehner was driving on state Route 417 near Orlando on Sunday evening when she lost control and crashed.
The crash occurred just a couple hours after Hurricane Irma made landfall 200 miles (320 kilometers) to the south in Marco Island.
The cause of the crash was under investigation.
Tropical Storm Irma has claimed a third life in Georgia.
The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office says on its website that a woman died from injuries she suffered when a tree fell on a vehicle in a private driveway.
The sheriff’s office says deputies and firefighters tried to rescue the woman, but she died from her injuries.
The sheriff’s office said it was withholding the woman’s name until her family and friends had been notified.
The storm is also being blamed for the death of a man in his 50s who died when a tree fell on his house just north of Atlanta and for the death of a 62-year-old man in rural southwest Georgia who had a heart attack after he climbed onto a shed Monday in a county where sustained winds exceeded 40 mph (65 kph).
A boat that became a coastal South Carolina icon when Hurricane Hugo washed it 2 miles (3 kilometers) onshore has been relocated by Tropical Storm Irma.
Storm surge from Hugo in 1989 carried the boat to the edge of state Highway 171. It sat there undisturbed and unclaimed until Monday, and had become a billboard for everything from marriage proposals to graduation congratulations and other milestones. There was even a brief controversy this summer as Confederate flag supporters and people against the rebel banner kept painting over the boat.
On Monday, Irma’s storm surge pushed the vessel a half-mile away to a dock in the marshes.
The boat was painted with a new message over the weekend: “Godspeed Florida. This too shall pass.”
The White House says President Donald Trump has declared that an emergency exists in Alabama due to the remnants of Hurricane Irma.
After battering Florida, Irma left the state as a tropical storm. It is forecast to cross into Alabama by Tuesday.
Trump’s declaration directs that federal assistance be made available to supplement the state and local response to any emergency conditions arising from the storm.
The Civil Protection agency in Haiti has confirmed the first death from the country’s brush with Hurricane Irma as the storm passed through the Caribbean.
A Civil Protection report issued Monday says the man died in the town of Mirebalais in the central plateau region of the country. Agency spokesman Guillaume Albert Moleon says the man died while attempting to cross a rain-swollen river in the rural area. The man was identified as Manesse Andreval and his age was not available but the spokesman says he appeared to be elderly.
The overall death toll from Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean is now at least 35, including 10 in Cuba.
A meteorologist says tropical storm-force winds were recorded at Atlanta’s airport as the still-strong remnants of Irma lashed Georgia.
Keith Stellman with the National Weather Service says the airport on Monday experienced sustained winds of 45 mph (72 kph) with gusts up to 64 mph (103 kph).
The National Weather Service issued its first-ever tropical storm warning for Atlanta on Sunday.
Stellman said Atlanta previously experienced tropical storm-force winds in 1995 when Hurricane Opal slammed into the Florida panhandle, surged up through Alabama and hit Atlanta as a tropical storm. But the weather service didn’t issue tropical storm warnings for inland counties at that time, which is why Sunday was the first time Atlanta had a tropical storm warning.
Florida officials are urging residents who might still be stuck on the second floors of flooded homes to call for help.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said during a briefing Monday afternoon that people shouldn’t be trying to ride out the flooding that has followed Irma.
“This is not a one-day event,” Curry said. “This is probably a weeklong event. We’re going to have to see on a day-to-day basis.”
Curry says he hopes the city will move to recovery mode soon, but for now, they’re still in rescue mode.
National Weather Service meteorologist Angie Enyedi says flooding appears to have reached its maximum levels, but it could take several days for waters to recede to their normal levels.
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams says they’re still assessing damage to the beach bridges, and they’ll let residents know when it’s safe to return. He urged people not to line up at the bridges, because they’d only be blocking emergency vehicles.
Officials in one Florida county say school principals had to take over running shelters when Red Cross staff members didn’t show up following Hurricane Irma.
The Miami Herald quotes Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho as saying on Monday that the opening of dozens of shelters ahead of Irma in the county was chaotic partly because the Red Cross “didn’t show up” to manage operations. Schools served as most of Miami-Dade County’s 42 shelters.
Red Cross officials say Miami-Dade had only asked it to operate eight shelters for the 2017 storm season. The not-for-profit says it went beyond that commitment. After Mayor Carlos Gimenez issued evacuation orders for more than 600,000 residents, the Red Cross says it agreed at the last minute to open four more shelters and help the county operate seven others.
Florida emergency management officials estimate nearly 13 million residents — two-thirds of the state’s population — remain without power.
The updated number came during a briefing on Monday evening at the state’s emergency management center in Tallahassee.
Nearly a third of the outages are in South Florida.
Authorities are reporting the first death in South Carolina related to Tropical Storm Irma.
Abbeville County Coroner Ronnie Ashley said 57-year-old Charles Saxon was cleaning limbs and debris outside his home in Calhoun Falls around 3 p.m. Monday when a limb fell on him.
Ashely said in a news release that Saxon died at the scene. An autopsy has been ordered.
The National Weather Service says winds in the area were gusting to around 40 mph (65 kph) at the time Saxon was killed. Calhoun Falls is located 60 miles (95 kilometers) south of Greenville, South Carolina.
Irma’s eye has finally left Florida and exited the state as a weak tropical storm with 50-mph (85-kph) winds.
The National Hurricane Center says the storm’s center is over southwestern Georgia, about 10 miles (15 kilometers) east of Albany. It is forecast to take a northwest turn Tuesday morning, moving into Alabama.
It is zipping north-northwest at 17 mph (28 kph) It is still a 415-mile (665-kilometers) wide storm.
Some, but not all, storm warnings in Florida have been discontinued, but storm surge is still expected along western Florida and from around Daytona Beach to South Carolina. South Carolina, Alabama and north central Georgia are expected to get 3 to 6 inches (7 to 15 centimeters) of rain with spots hitting 10 inches (25 centimeters). Northern Mississippi and southern Tennessee and parts of North Carolina are forecast to get 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) of rain.
Officials say the 42-bridge roadway that connects the Florida Keys to each other and the mainland must be checked for safety before motorists can be allowed back onto the islands.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Monday that once officials are able to inspect, and to clear debris and sand from the Overseas Highway, it should be usable again.
Monroe County spokeswoman Cammy Clark said in an email Monday afternoon that the Keys are still closed to residents and visitors as crews work to make the roads safe. Much of the Keys are still without power and water.
There are 35 trucks and 100 workers heading from Jacksonville to Key West to help restore power to Keys Energy, which services the Lower Keys.
All three of the Keys’ hospitals are closed, including their emergency rooms, though emergency responders and medical personel have been allowed to enter the Keys. Trauma Star’s three air ambulance helicopters are heading to the Keys from Alabama, where they rode out the storm.
Officials are reporting a second death in Georgia related to Tropical Storm Irma.
Georgia Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Catherine Howden said the death was confirmed Monday in Sandy Springs, north of Atlanta. She said she had no further details.
The storm is also being blamed for the death of a 62-year-old man in rural southwest Georgia. Worth County sheriff’s spokeswoman Kannetha Clem said the man use a ladder to climb onto a shed Monday morning as sustained winds in the county exceeded 40 mph (65 kph).
Clem says the man’s wife called 911 saying he suffered a heart attack, and first responders found his body lodged between two beams on the shed’s roof with debris on top of him.
The dead man’s name was not immediately released.
Several of the Orlando, Florida, theme parks that are popular with tourists around the world have plans to reopen now that Hurricane Irma has moved out of the state.
The Walt Disney Co. said in a news release that its Disney World theme parks and Disney Springs will reopen on Tuesday and resume regular hours. Its two water parks, however, will not reopen until later in the week.
Universal Orlando said Monday that all three of its parks will reopen at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Universal said its facility suffered relatively minor damage to fences, trees and building facades.
Sea World and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay said Monday that they are assessing damage and would announce their reopening plans later. Sea World also said all of its animals are safe.
As South Carolina’s governor was issuing warnings about Tropical Storm Irma for the state’s residents, the storm toppled a massive oak tree on an apartment building he owns.
Gov. Henry McMaster says the tree fell on a building he owns in Columbia around noon Monday.
McMaster says the college students living at the apartments are safe. The governor says “no one suspected it might fall,” but the tree destroyed two apartments in the two-story building.
The Columbia Fire Department says the fallen tree has left up to eight people without a home, but no one was injured.
One displaced resident told WIS-TV the tree crashed through her apartment to the one below, taking furniture with it.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott says the Navy has deployed the USS Iwo Jima, USS New York and the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln to help with search and rescue and “a lot of other things” in the state.
Scott says he flew over the Keys and saw a lot of flood damage and boats that had washed ashore.
He says there is “devastation” and he hopes everyone who stayed behind survived Irma. He said almost every mobile home park in the Keys had overturned homes.
Scott also flew over the west coast of Florida on Monday and said the damage was not as bad as he thought it would be.
President Donald Trump’s homeland security adviser says Irma is still a dangerous storm despite being downgraded to a tropical depression.
Tom Bossert says while Irma’s category of strength may have been reduced, its combined effects might replicate that of a more powerful storm. Irma was once rated at Category 5 storm, the most powerful on record.
Bossert notes that Jacksonville, Florida, is experiencing some of the worst flooding it has seen in 100 years.
He says Tennessee and Kentucky, both targets as Irma moves to the U.S. interior, could experience inland flooding.
Bossert says his message to the millions of Floridians who evacuated before the storm hit is not to rush back home because conditions are still dangerous.
Georgia officials say at least one person has been killed by Tropical Storm Irma.
Georgia Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Catherine Howden said Monday that one storm-related death has been confirmed in Worth County, about 170 miles (270 kilometers) south of Atlanta. She had no further details.
The county is located in southwest Georgia, where Irma’s center was churning northwestward toward Alabama on Monday afternoon. With tropical storm winds extending more than 400 miles (640 kilometers) from its center, Irma has caused damage across the state from trees falling on inland homes to flooding in neighborhoods on the Georgia coast.
The storm has also been blamed for one death in Florida. At least 36 people died in the storm’s wake across the Caribbean.
Communities along the Georgia coast are seeing extensive flooding from Tropical Storm Irma.
Irma’s storm surge pushed water ashore at the high tide Monday afternoon, and heavy rainfall made the flooding even worse. On Tybee Island east of Savannah, Hollard Zellers saw waist-deep water in the street as he went to fetch a kayak.
About 3,000 people live on Tybee Island, which is Georgia’s largest public beach. City manager Shawn Gillen said the waters seemed to be receding quickly, but most of the island appeared to have some level of flooding and water was in many homes.
Storm surge also sent floodwaters into downtown St. Marys just north of the Georgia-Florida line. St. Marys police Lt. Shannon Brock said piers and boat docks were heavily damaged and many boats sunk.
A massive sinkhole opened up at the edge of an apartment building in Orange County, Florida, swallowing air-conditioning units and bushes and a concrete slab. The sinkhole destabilized the building so seriously that firefighters evacuated dozens of residents amid the hurricane’s winds and pouring rain.
Ronnie Ufie heard a loud bang and her 6-year-old grandson saw sparks shoot up behind the building, then their power flickered out.
The fire alarm started screaming.
Ernest Almonor, who lives next door to Ufie, ran outside but saw no fire and went back inside.
But firefighters arrived and told them they had to leave the building. Ufie, who cares for her two young grandsons, grabbed some coloring books and crayons and headed through the rain for a neighbor’s house.
But most residents, around 25 people, ended up scrambling through the storm to hunker for the night in the complex’s clubhouse.
Dutch King Willem-Alexander has flown to St. Maarten to see firsthand the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Irma on the tiny Caribbean territory and express gratitude to relief workers struggling to deliver aid and start the process of rebuilding shattered communities.
Images broadcast by Dutch news outlets showed the king, wearing sunglasses and a khaki shirt with the sleeves rolled up, touring the badly damaged Princess Juliana International Airport . The airport, named for his grandmother, has become a vital hub for flights bringing in relief supplies as well as a gathering point for tourists and residents waiting to leave the island in the aftermath of last week’s devastating direct hit by Irma.
Later Monday, the king was scheduled to visit the hospital in the capital, Philipsburg, and a school that is being used as a coordination center for distributing aid. Willem-Alexander also was expected to meet police and troops who have been struggling to maintain order on St. Maarten, where widespread looting broke out after Irma had passed.
St. Maarten is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but has had broad autonomy since 2010.
After spending the night in St. Maarten, the king is flying Tuesday to two nearby Dutch islands, Saba and St. Eustatius, which also were hit by Irma, but suffered less damage.
State and federal environmental regulators have issued a blanket waiver for Florida electricity companies to violate clean air and water standards for the next two weeks.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced the decision in a letter issued Monday as Hurricane Irma blew through the state. The agency said the so-called No Action Assurance granted through Sept. 26 will provide Florida utility generators needed flexibility to maintain and restore electricity supplies.
The assurance letter will allow utilities to operate outside restrictions mandated by their permits, including potentially using dirtier fuels, running for longer hours or electively bypassing pollution-control equipment.
The Associated Press reported last week that air pollution levels spiked in the Houston area after a similar enforcement waiver was granted to petrochemical facilities ahead of Hurricane Harvey.
Tropical Storm Irma has now knocked out power to around 190,000 customers in South Carolina.
Most of the outages Monday afternoon were reported by the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina and South Carolina Electric and Gas.
Charleston County had about 60,000 power outages, while Beaufort County reported about 39,000 customers without electricity.
The rest of the outages are scattered across South Carolina as the winds from Irma spread across the state.
Tropical Storm Irma continues to weaken, now down to 60 mph (95 kilometers per hour) and three more coastal warnings have been discontinued.
The storm is 50 miles (80 kilometers) south-southeast of Albany, Georgia, and is moving at 17 mph (28 kilometers per hour).
Forecasters expect it to become a tropical depression on Tuesday.
The National Weather Service has issued a flash-flood emergency for Charleston as heavy rains begin to move into areas already flooding by ocean surge from Tropical Storm Irma.
Forecasters say the flooding from the ocean about a mile (1.6 kilometers) inland to Calhoun Street is becoming life-threatening. No injuries have been reported yet.
The ocean level reached nearly 10 feet (3 meters) Monday, 4 feet (1 meter) above normal and the third highest reading in the past 80 years, only behind Hurricane Hugo and a 1940 hurricane.
Authorities say with the rain it could be several hours before the water recedes.
Several tornado warnings have also been issued around Charleston, but no major damage has been reported.
The mayor of a South Carolina beach town under mandatory evacuation orders says seven people have been rescued from rising floodwaters.
Edisto Beach Mayor Jane Darby says a family of four was rescued from their car about noon Monday from a curve near the beach’s pier. She says the family had “decided all of a sudden” they needed to leave.
They are among an estimated 70 people still in the town of 530 people, despite Gov. Henry McMaster’s evacuation order Friday night.
Darby says emergency officials also rescued three news media employees.
Darby says Edisto Beach is “under water,” with power lines and trees down. He says the town has suspended all emergency calls because “it’s too dangerous.”
As the remnants of Hurricane Irma move out of Florida, work is underway to resupply the state with gasoline. Hurricane Irma caused a huge spike in gasoline demand as residents evacuated, topped of their tanks, and/or filled gas cans to power generators. This led to outages at various gas stations throughout Florida and neighboring states, and it could take a week for supply conditions to return to normal.
Suppliers face an uphill battle in the coming days, trying to keep gas stations supplied, as Florida evacuees return home in large numbers after the storm. Gas stations not located along major highways should have an easier time keeping supplies, as residents are no longer “panic pumping”, since the storm is no longer a threat. Refueling gas stations along major evacuation routes will be a top priority, as it was before the storm. Motorists are still likely to find long lines, which could lead to temporary outages, due to the surge in demand.
“Florida evacuees should plan their return home very carefully,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA - The Auto Club Group. “First, ensure you know there are no major hazards at home or along your travel route. Expect congestion on the roadways, as the first few days after the storm will be the busiest. Pay close attention to traffic reports. Ensure you have a full tank of gas before you hit the road. Do not let your fuel gauge fall below a quarter tank before you start looking for a place to refuel. Bring a gas can in case you run out of fuel. It is not safe to drive with a full gas can inside an enclosed vehicle.”
The Navy is sending an aircraft carrier to Key West to provide emergency services.
An update from Monroe County describes “an astounding recovery effort” taking place in the Florida Keys.
The USS Lincoln aircraft carrier will be anchored off Key West to provide emergency services, and three other Navy vessels are en route.
Officials said the National Guard has arrived in the island chain, and state transportation officials have cleared six of 42 bridges as safe for travel. However, roads remain closed because of debris, and fuel is still a concern. There is no water, power or cell service in the Keys.
Schools and businesses were closed across Alabama as Tropical Storm Irma moved inland.
The National Weather Service placed most of the eastern half of the state under a tropical storm warning. The remainder of the state was under a wind advisory.
The Alabama Emergency Management Agency said strong winds and gusts up to 50 mph were expected through early Tuesday.
The center of the storm was expected to cross from Florida into Georgia Monday afternoon.
Hotels across Alabama also filled up with evacuees from Florida.
The Alabama governor’s office on Monday estimated that 250,000 evacuees made their way into the state. The Red Cross opened two shelters in the state, one in Montgomery and one in Baldwin County.
Ocean water pushed onshore from Tropical Storm Irma is coming over the Battery in downtown Charleston, South Carolina.
Dozens of streets near the water in Charleston were flooded and water levels at the gauge downtown were 9.4 feet (2.9 meters) at high tide around 12:30 p.m. Monday.
That is nearly at the same level as Hurricane Matthew last October.
Forecasters say the ocean may rise a little more, but they don’t expect a surge anywhere near the 12.5 feet (3.8 meters) recorded when Hurricane Hugo came ashore just north of Charleston in 1989.
Street flooding isn’t unusual in Charleston, which also sees flooding during Nor’easters and other storms.
The next high tide is early Tuesday morning, when forecasters expect water levels from Irma to be much lower.
In the Palm Beach County suburb of Riviera Beach, the line was about 25 people deep at a Marathon gas station’s convenience store
It was one of the few in the area that had power by noon Monday.
The store’s doors and windows had been smashed during the storm by would-be looters trying unsuccessfully to punch through the safety glass. Some people had already parked their cars at the station’s pumps in case a tanker arrived to fill its empty storage tanks, while the customers inside were grabbing cold drinks, snacks and cigarettes.
Eric Truppy, a truck driver who had moved to the area 10 days ago from New Jersey, was carrying bags of cereal and protein drinks to his car. He said Irma’s impact on the Palm Beach area was nothing compared to what happened in New Jersey after 2012′s Hurricane Sandy.
“I didn’t think it was that bad,” Truppy said. “Sandy was worse, both for flooding and wind.”
Nearly 7.2 million homes and businesses are without power in multiple states as Tropical Storm Irma moves through the Southeast.
The vast majority were in Florida. The state’s emergency management officials said the storm cut power to more than 6.5 million account holders across the state as of Monday afternoon.
Eric Silagy, the CEO of Florida Power & Light, said Irma caused the most widespread damage in the company’s history. It affected all 35 counties in the utility’s territory which is most of the state’s Atlantic coast and the Gulf coast south of Tampa. The most extensive damage was likely in the Naples area, but a full assessment was ongoing. He said 19,500 electric workers have been deployed in the restoration effort.
Still, he said, it will take days for many people to be restored and, in some cases where the damage was extensive, weeks.
Meanwhile, Duke Energy reported Monday morning that more than 860,000 of the homes and businesses it serves in Florida were without power.
Georgia reported more than 570,000 homes and businesses without electricity, and there were 80,000 in South Carolina.
A resident riding out Tropical Storm Irma on Georgia’s largest public beach says some homes have been damaged but the destruction isn’t as bad as he feared.
Chip Clayton was driving the roads Monday as Irma’s winds and rainfall lashed Tybee Island, home to more than 3,000 people east of Savannah. Clayton said at least three homes had parts of their roofs or porches torn away and some roads were flooded. Ocean waters had begun washing away chunks of the protective dunes along the beach.
But Clayton said “for the most part, everything’s fine. ...We thought it would be a lot worse.”
Chatham County emergency management director Dennis Jones, whose area includes Savannah and Tybee Island, said Monday that Irma’s impacts should ease up by Monday evening.
Kelly McClenthen and boyfriend Daniel Harrison put on waders to enter her neighborhood in Bonita Springs after Irma, and they needed them.
About 5 feet of river water stood under her home, which is on stilts. The main living area was fine, she said, but everything on the ground level was destroyed. She said her washer and dryer were floating in her utility room.
The same area flooded during a storm about two weeks ago, Harrison said, and that cleanup was still a work in progress. Now they’ll start over, but Harrison said they’ll get through it.
Jacksonville, Florida, authorities are telling residents near the St. Johns river to leave quickly as floodwaters rise.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office warned people in evacuation zones A and B along the St. Johns River to “Get out NOW.”
They say river is at historic flood levels and likely to get worse at high tide around 2 p.m.
On its Facebook page, the sheriff’s office told those who need help evacuating to “put a white flag in front of your house. A t-shirt, anything white.”
Rescue teams were ready to deploy.
A Miami-area grocery store drew a crowd when it said it was reopening, but it disappointed a line of people it lacked key staples: bottled water and ice.
Workers at a Publix supermarket in Miami Lakes said the store would be opening Monday morning and that it would be “close to fully operational.”
A line formed outside the store before its planned 10:30 a.m. opening. The delay in opening, officials said, was because of the time needed to get enough workers in place to run the store.
But when a manager came out and said there was no ice and no bottled water, 19 people standing in line left.
A longtime resident of Florida’s Marco Island said Hurricane Irma was the strongest storm he’s seen in three decades of living there.
Rick Freedman and his wife rode the storm out the island where Hurricane Irma made its second landfall Sunday afternoon as a Category 3 storm. They were uninjured, but he said the damage around them was striking.
A couple doors down from his house, much of a neighbor’s roof blew off. He said the island was covered with debris Monday morning.
He and his wife spent Sunday in a neighbor’s house with sturdy concrete block construction, and that house suffered little damage. He said his own wood-frame house on stilts appears to have little if any interior damage, but the storm ripped off an exterior stairway to the front door and blew off some roof shingles.
At the storm’s height he described “tremendously, tremendously powerful winds.”
Tropical Storm Irma is gradually losing its strength as it sloshes through northern Florida with the National Hurricane Center discontinuing four storm surge and tropical storm warnings.
Irma’s maximum sustained winds were down to 65 mph (100 kph) as the storm was about 70 miles (115 km) east of Tallahassee late Monday morning. It’s moving north northwest at 17 mph (28 kph).
Forecasters expect Irma’s center to move into southwestern Georgia later Monday and then into Alabama Tuesday morning and eventually western Tennessee.
Northern Florida and southern Georgia should keep getting soaked, with rain totals eventually accumulating to 8 to 15 inches. Isolated parts of central Georgia, eastern Alabama and southern South Carolina may get up to 10 inches of rain.
Officials say at least one tornado has been reported in coastal Georgia as strong winds and drenching rains from Tropical Storm Irma hammer the state.
Glynn County emergency officials had no immediate reports of tornado damage. They said in news release Monday that residents who didn’t evacuate need to shelter in place. They said causeways linking St. Simons Island and Sea Island to the mainland are closed because of flooding, and other roads are flooded as well.
Gov. Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency for all of Georgia. Irma’s center was forecast to cross the Georgia-Florida line Monday afternoon but tropical storm winds were extending more than 400 miles (640 kilometers).
The National Weather Service placed most of Georgia under a tropical storm warning.
Tropical storm Irma is drenching the Georgia coast, and forecasters say flooding is a serious threat.
Downtown Savannah was getting soaked Monday morning, with winds just strong enough to rustle treetops and shake small branches onto the roads. Impacts from the storm were expected throughout the day.
The National Weather Service said the threat of storm surge had decreased Monday along Georgia’s 100 miles (160 kilometers) of coast, but flooding rains could still cause swollen rivers, streams and creeks to overflow.
Irma was forecast to cross the Georgia-Florida line Monday afternoon. Though downgraded to a tropical storm, its winds reached up to 415 miles (668 kilometers) from the center.
Georgia Power said more than 125,000 customers were without powers across Georgia’s six coastal counties.
Firefighters on one of South Carolina’s largest barrier islands are now staying inside until the worst weather from Tropical Storm Irma passes.
Hilton Head Island said on Twitter that it suspended emergency operations at 9 a.m. Monday until the winds and storm surge subside. They say they will only go on calls if a supervisor allows them because conditions are too dangerous.
The island of 42,000 people is under an evacuation order. Forecasters warn wind gusts around 60 mph (95 kph) and storm surge of up to 6 feet (2 meters) are possible later Monday.
Similar storm surge and winds gusts are possible up to coast to Charleston too.
Actress Kristen Bell says she’s “singing in a hurricane” while riding out Irma in Florida.
The “Frozen” star is in Orlando filming a movie and staying at a hotel at the Walt Disney World resort. She stopped by an Orlando middle school that was serving as a shelter and belted out songs from “Frozen.”
Back at the hotel, Bell posted pictures on Instagram of her singing with one guest and dining with a group of seniors.
Bell also helped out the parents of “Frozen” co-star Josh Gad by securing them a room at the hotel.
Bell tells Sacramento, California, station KMAX-TV — where her father is news director — that the experience is her version of one of her favorite movies, “Singin’ in the Rain.”
People are being rescued from flooded homes Monday morning south of Jacksonville, Florida, as Tropical Storm Irma pounds the state with rain and wind.
John Ward, the emergency operations manager of Clay County, says crews have pulled 46 people from flooded homes by early Monday and an undetermined number are still stranded as the area’s creeks and ponds are getting record flooding.
Ward says between 400 and 500 homes received severe flood damage but there have been no serious injuries or deaths.
Irma weakened to a tropical storm Monday morning, a day after hitting the state as a powerful Category 4 hurricane.
An Atlanta airport official says there’ve been around 800 cancellations due to the threat of Irma, which weakened to a tropical storm Monday morning.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport spokesman Andrew Gobeil says the airport will still be operational Monday and will monitor storm conditions.
Gobeil says the airport created an overflow parking plan to allow planes unable to land in areas such as Florida to park at the airport in Atlanta.
Also in Atlanta, the city’s transit system has suspended all bus and rail service ahead of the weather conditions caused by Irma.
Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority spokesman Erik Burton says both systems will be closed for Monday. He says officials will continue to coordinate with state and local officials along with emergency personnel to determine MARTA’s service schedule for Tuesday.
Much of central Florida, including Orlando, suffered significant damage as Irma blew through Sunday night and into Monday morning.
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said Monday morning that there’s been widespread damage and significant power loss throughout the area.
Jacobs said approximately 300,000 residents in Orlando are without power. She also said 60 percent of the fire stations are operating on backup generators and dispatchers received 1,381 calls between Sunday at midnight and 5:45 a.m. Monday morning.
Residents are being asked to minimize usage such as flushing toilets, bathing, along with washing dishes and laundry.
Irma is causing record-setting flooding in Jacksonville, Florida, as it moves over the state Monday on its way to southern Georgia.
The National Weather Service in Jacksonville says storm surge flooding exceeds the record set in 1965 during Hurricane Dora.
The city on Florida’s northeastern Atlantic coast remains under a flash flood warning until 12:45 p.m. Monday.
Jacksonville Sheriff’s officials warned residents not to drive through standing water, adding that in addition to flooding, there are trees and power lines down across the area.
Irma weakened to a tropical storm Monday morning, a day after hitting the state as a Category 4 hurricane.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott says there’s damage across the state caused by Hurricane Irma and it’s still too dangerous for residents to go outside or return from evacuation.
Scott said Monday on Fox News that he’s concerned about flooding now unfolding in Jacksonville and the amount of damage in the Florida Keys. The governor will be flying out of Mobile, Alabama, on a U.S. Coast Guard plane down to the Keys where he plans to inspect the extent of the damage there.
Local officials in the Keys on Sunday warned of a humanitarian crisis due to Irma’s winds and storm surge.
Scott asked Floridians to be patient and warned that roads are impassable and that there are downed power lines.
Two children evacuated from Florida as Hurricane Irma approached have been killed in separate car crashes in Georgia.
News outlets report Woodstock police say 3-month-old Riley Hunt of Port St. Lucie, Florida, was struck by an SUV driven by a 17-year-old girl Saturday night and was later pronounced dead. DeKalb County police say an 11-year-old boy who was also traveling from Florida to Georgia was hit and killed by a car early Monday in Stone Mountain.
The identity of the boy hasn’t been released, and the cause of the crash is currently unknown.
The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office says Hunt’s mother, 28-year-old Kaitlyn Hunt, and 61-year-old Kathy Deming were also hit and are listed in critical condition. The incident remains under investigation. No charges had been filed.
Irma has weakened to a tropical storm as it moves over Florida toward southern Georgia.
The storm’s maximum sustained winds decreased Monday morning to near 70 mph (110 kph). The U.S. National Hurricane Center says it’s expected to weaken to a tropical depression by Tuesday afternoon.
Irma is centered about 105 miles (170 kilometers) north-northwest of Tampa, Florida, and is moving north-northwest near 18 mph (30 kph).
Irma hit southern Florida on Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane, bringing roof-ripping winds, gushing floodwaters and widespread power outages.
The National Guard and local fire rescue teams evacuated more than 120 flooding homes in Orange County, just outside Orlando, as Hurricane Irma moves over Florida.
Trees and power lines were down across town and floods cut off roads to a neighborhood.
As the sun rose in Orlando, many tried to go outside to survey the damage, but authorities warn that conditions remain dangerous and ask that people to abide by the curfew that lasts throughout most of the day.
Winds and rain from Hurricane Irma have moved into South Carolina and officials are warning residents to be very careful throughout the day.
A hurricane watch is in effect Monday from Edisto Beach into Florida. A storm surge warning and a tropical storm warning are in effect from near Georgetown into Florida.
A flash flood warning is in effect along the southern coast of South Carolina, where more than 40,000 were ordered to evacuate barrier islands.
The storm surge could reach 6 feet (2 meters), especially from late morning to mid-afternoon. Up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain is also possible.
Wind gusts of up to 60 mph (97 kph) are expected along the South Carolina coast. Forecasters say tornadoes are also possible.
South Carolina Electric & Gas reported more than 13,000 customers without service Monday morning.
The European Union says it has released 2 million euros ($2.4 million) to help the Caribbean islands hit hardest by Hurricane Irma.
EU’s humanitarian aid commissioner, Christos Stylianides, announced the assistance Monday, saying the money will go to key sectors such as health, water and sanitation and waste management.
The EU has already been involved in the emergency relief effort, and Stylianides said the bloc stands ready to provide longer-term assistance as well. He called it “our moral duty to help those in need whose lives and homes are being destroyed or severely threatened.”
Nearly 4.5 million homes and businesses across Florida have lost power as Hurricane Irma moves over the state.
And utility officials say it will take weeks to restore electricity to everyone. Farther north, more than 100,000 are in the dark in Georgia.
Much of eastern Alabama and coastal South Carolina are under tropical storm warnings as Irma pummels Florida, weakening on its march northward.
The National Hurricane Center predicts the storm will cross Monday into southwest Georgia, where a hurricane warning was in effect for a large rural area including the cities of Albany and Valdosta.
Rain already is falling in parts of the state, including metro Atlanta, early Monday.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says that while the city hasn’t escaped Hurricane Irma’s wrath, the situation isn’t as bad as they had feared.
Speaking Monday morning on MSNBC, Buckhorn said “What we thought was going to be a punch in the face was a glancing blow.”
Buckhorn did say there are a lot of downed power lines and debris.
He said Tampa’s officials have vehicles positioned “to be sure that when that surge comes in we can keep people out of the streets.”
He said he expected power to be out for some sections of Tampa for at least a couple more days.
Hurricane Irma is getting weaker as it moves over the western Florida peninsula after hitting the state Sunday as a Category 4 storm.
Police in Miami are investigating reports of people looting stores as Hurricane Irma hit the state.
On Sunday night, Miami police took two people into custody and detained two others.
Deputy Police Chief Luis Cabrera told the Miami Herald the officers went to the Shops at Midtown on Sunday afternoon as the winds of Hurricane Irma were at their strongest in South Florida. Cabrera says a group in a white truck hit multiple locations. Police have also received additional reports of looting in the city.
Police had issued a curfew Saturday night, partly to ward off looters by giving officers probable cause to stop anyone for being on the street during the storm.
Cabrera didn’t have specific details about the looting incidents.
The British government is defending its response to Hurricane Irma amid claims it has been slow to help its overseas territories devastated by the storm.
The British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and the Turks and Caicos islands were all pummeled by the hurricane last week, leaving thousands without electricity or shelter.
Opposition politicians have compared Britain’s response unfavorably to that of France, which has sent more than 1,000 troops, police and emergency workers to St. Martin and St. Barts.
Britain has dispatched a navy ship and nearly 500 troops, including medics and engineers.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Monday that Britain had responded strongly to an “unprecedented catastrophe.” He says the government will soon increase the 32 million pounds ($42 million) it’s pledged to the relief effort.
Police in Lakeland, Florida, say a family with small children was rescued from a car that was submerged in water as Hurricane Irma crossed the area.
Lakeland police said in a Facebook post that officers rescued the family of four early Monday as water reached the children’s car seats. No one was injured and police were able to get the family back to their home.
“When you become a police officer you hope to make a difference in the lives of others,” the Facebook post said. “Tonight, there is no doubt these officers made a difference.”
Lakeland is between Tampa and Orlando, off of Interstate 4.
Hurricane Irma is getting weaker as it moves over the western Florida peninsula after hitting the state Sunday as a Category 4 storm.
A Florida sheriff’s sergeant and a paramedic were trapped in a sheriff’s vehicle when a live power pole fell on the cruiser as they were returning from dropping off an elderly patient as Hurricane Irma moved over the state.
Polk County spokesman Kevin Watler said in a news release that Sgt. Chris Lynn and Polk County Fire Rescue paramedic James Tanner Schaill were trapped for about two hours late Sunday.
Crews from Lakeland Electric crews disconnected the lines around 1:15 a.m. Monday. Both men have returned to their jobs to continue assisting hurricane recovery efforts.
More than 120 homes are being evacuated in Orange County, just outside Orlando, as floodwaters from Hurricane Irma started to pour in.
The Orange County Emergency Operations Center said early Monday that the fire department and the National Guard are going door-to-door using boats to ferry families to safety. No injuries have been reported. The rescued families are being taken a shelter for safety.
A few miles away, 30 others had to be evacuated when a 60-foot sinkhole opened up under an apartment building. No injuries were reported in that incident.
Hurricane Irma is getting weaker as it moves over the western Florida peninsula after hitting the state Sunday as a Category 4 storm.
Hurricane Irma is getting weaker as it moves over the western Florida peninsula early Monday.
Irma hit Florida on Sunday as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, hammering much of the state with roof-ripping winds, gushing floodwaters and widespread power outages.
By Monday morning, Irma had weakened to a Category 1 hurricane with winds near 85 mph (135 kph). Additional weakening is forecast and Irma is expected to become a tropical storm over northern Florida or southern Georgia later in the day.
Dutch search and rescue experts are heading to the shattered former colony of St. Maarten to support the humanitarian relief effort in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
A team of 59 urban search and rescue experts is flying Monday to the Dutch territory that’s home to some 40,000 people, where 70 percent of homes were badly damaged last week by a direct hit from the Category 5 storm. Four people were killed and dozens injured.
The Dutch government also is sending extra troops to maintain order following widespread looting and robberies. The government says there are already nearly 400 extra troops in St. Maarten and that number will rise to some 550 over the next two days.
Dutch King Willem-Alexander is expected to visit the island Monday to show his support for local residents and the emergency services working to restore infrastructure and begin the process of reconstruction.
Irma weakened to a Category 1 storm as the massive hurricane zeroed in on the Tampa Bay region early Monday after hammering much of Florida with roof-ripping winds, gushing floodwaters and widespread power outages.
The hurricane’s maximum sustained winds weakened to 85 mph (135 kph) with additional weakening expected.
As of 2 a.m. EDT, the storm was centered about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Tampa and moving north-northwest near 15 mph (24 kph).
Irma continues its slog north along Florida’s western coast having blazed a path of unknown destruction. With communication cut to some of the Florida Keys, where Irma made landfall Sunday, and rough conditions persisting across the peninsula, many are holding their breath for what daylight might reveal.
An earlier version of this report, incorrectly said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s comments were made on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show.
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