Hurricane Irma to pound Florida peninsula through the night

Hurricane Irma killed three people when it struck the southern Florida Keys island chain as a more powerful Category 4 on Sunday

Hurricane warnings cover all of Florida except the western Panhandle, where a tropical storm warning was in effect. An aircraft carrier was to be anchored off Key West as an emergency center, and officials planned drone flights to survey the damage.

Irma gave Florida a coast-to-coast pummeling with winds up to 130 miles per hour Sunday, swamping homes and boats, knocking out power to millions and toppling massive construction cranes over the Miami skyline.

At least seven people, including a sheriff's deputy, died of storm-related injuries in Florida.

About 30,000 people heeded orders to leave the Keys as the storm closed in, but an untold number refused, in part because, to many storm-hardened residents, staying behind in the face of danger is a point of pride.

"The President's action during these times demonstrate why he's a true leader who can bring the country together and get things done for the American people", Sanders said.

As of Sunday night, 112,759 customers for Tampa Electric had lost power, the utility said on its website.

A roof lies strewn across a lawn as Rick Freedman checks damage in his Marco Island neighborhood. Streets were also flooded in the city's financial district. At least two construction cranes partially collapsed. Meanwhile, heavy equipment was seen moving to clear road debris in Florida as chain saws whirred and cleanup crews fanned out.

The first images from the Keys, where Irma made its initial U.S. landfall as a Category 4 yesterday morning now coming in showing houses barely standing, cars buried beneath sand.

But Shiveley said the storm had weakened by the time it got to Tampa after making an early landfall near Naples.

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This is how big Hurricane Irma is.

A fallen tree crashes atop a row of cars on September 10, 2017 Miami, Florida in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

Statewide: Over 2.5 million customers were without power. And it could be a week until it's restored, Barnett said.

Authorities now fear Tampa will be next hit by the category two storm cell with wind speeds of 160 km/h expected to hit the unprepared region, CNN reports.

Tornado watches have been issued for nine Florida counties.

"It definitely went a step above even that particular one", he said.

While some coastal communities breathed a sigh of relief, people in Jacksonville faced flash flooding on Monday.

The water reached record levels in many areas, with city officials tweeting that the St. Johns River flooding was the worst since 1846. The damage from the storm damaged not just people's homes and businesses, but also knocked out communication services to rescue crews. Both were unhurt. And more than 120 homes were being evacuated early Monday in Orange County, just outside the city of Orlando, as floodwaters started to pour in.

The President said Irma would "cost a lot of money", but added: "Right now we're anxious about lives, not cost". "I know for our entire state, especially the Keys, it's going to be a long road".



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