Large parts of Florida remain at risk from potentially life-threatening storm surges after Hurricane Irma tore a devastating path through the state. “As little as six inches of moving water can knock you down,” said the state’s governor Rick Scott. “Stay inside. Stay safe.”
Irma Weakens in Florida
Irma is continuing to lash Florida as it moves into the north of the state. But it lost strength and downgraded to a tropical storm, with rather sustained wind speeds of 70mph. Almost 6.2 million homes (62%) are without power in Florida and rescuing work is in full progress. More than 160,000 people were for the storm to last in their shelters across the state.
The US National Hurricane Centre expects that the storm will weaken down to a tropical depression by Tuesday afternoon. Location of Irma is about 105 miles north-northwest of Tampa, Florida, and is moving at around 18 mph.
Among the worst hit areas is the Miami Dade County where almost 809,580 homes are without power.
Government Aids to People
President Donald Trump describes Irma as ‘some big monster’. He has approved a major disaster declaration and emergency federal aid for Florida. Meanwhile, the British government is to provide a £32 million ($42 million) relief fund and double public donations made to the Red Cross appeal. Yet people are cursing the government for helping less. It makes me think how much of that criticism is really necessary.
A resident of an island destroyed by Hurricane Irma told how a washing machine struck her as Irma battered her house. It’s 185 mph winds were the highest on record for the open Atlantic ocean, outside the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Only one other storm in the entire Atlantic basin – Allen in the 1980s – was stronger.
Destruction in the Caribbean
In addition, before hitting Florida, Hurricane Irma caused catastrophic damage across the Caribbean. It killed there at least 37 people and left probably thousands homeless.
Hurricane Irma first struck the dual-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda on Wednesday. The category five storm then pummelled St Martin and St Barts – popular holiday destinations – on the same day. There was also widespread damage reported on both island chains of British Virgin and US Virgin islands. Irma hit them later on Wednesday.
State media has named all 10 victims of the hurricane in Cuba. People were also killed in the states of territories of Havana, Matanzas, Camagüey and Ciego de Ávila, much as in other affected areas of Caribbean.
Irma arrived in Florida on Sunday as a category four storm. Flood was across the streets. and at least four deaths were reported on Sunday. The clean-up operation in the US state has barely begun. AIR Worldwide estimates almost $20bn to $40bn (£15bn to £30bn) in damage done to insured property alone.
Homes are flooded, shop-lined streets have turned into rivers, giant cranes and trees have snapped, and almost 5.7 million people are without power.
Boats lay partly submerged and petrol stations had roofs blown off. Several deaths were reported in traffic accidents.