Wednesday, 20 June, 2018

Tampa dodged Irma's worst, but still at risk and unprepared

Killer Hurricane Irma is set to batter Florida tomorrow The skyline is seen as the outerbands of Hurricane Irma start to reach Florida
Sherri Watson | 14 September, 2017, 06:11

In total more than 4.5 million FPL customers were affected by the storm, with over 1.6 million having their service restored already, mostly by automated devices.

On Tuesday, life in the coastal city of St. Augustine - the oldest permanent city in America, founded on September 8, 1565 - was probably more like it was 450 years ago than it should be today. Without electricity, the combination of heat and humidity, combined with residents who require electricity for medical care, is making life hard for Florida residents, especially the elderly.

"In SOUTHWEST FLORIDA - the NAPLES-FT". We've got roads that are impassible still across the state. Restoration of power in Georgia "could take several days, if not weeks", depending on the level of damage and whether crews have safe access to areas, Georgia Power stated Tuesday in a news release. But officials urged patience.

With sustained winds at 125 miles per hour, Irma slowly began turning from Cuba's northern coast up into the Florida Strait on Saturday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center said.

"The thing to watch is whether small insurance companies are going be able to survive massive amount of claims that we expect with hurricane Irma", Dan Weber, Association of Mature American Citizens CEO and a former Florida state insurance specialist for 30 years, said.

In the afternoon, sustained winds in Miami and Fort Lauderdale reached 50-60 miles per hour through the early afternoon, gusting as high as 80 to 100 miles per hour. Florida: 6.2 million customers, according to Floridadisaster.org.

Irma's eye- the strongest part of the system - didn't cross into any Central Florida counties.

In Georgia, more than 500,000 electricity accounts are still out of service, Georgia Public Broadcasting reports.

Irma has weakened to a tropical depression, and heavy rainfall is continuing across the southeastern US, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Meanwhile, more than 50 police officers left the United Kingdom for the British Virgin Islands on Sunday to help local authorities with policing and recovery after Hurricane Irma. More than half the community of 15,000 residents lacked power.

In Puerto Rico, the government announced 1 million people lost power from Irma.

Even before hitting Cuba, Irma had proven catastrophic, killing 24 people this week in the Caribbean and leaving entire islands in ruins. Puerto Rico, an unincorporated USA territory, has about 3.4 million residents.

Sewa International, one of the Indian-American organisations carrying out relief and rescue work, provided shelter to more than 300 families in the homes of its volunteers and members in and around Atlanta.

Hospitals and nursing homes are the top priority, according to Gov. Rick Scott. Schools in the state planned to close Monday.

For customers using electric generators, FPL advised residents to set them up outside, away from all open windows, to prevent deadly exhaust from entering a home. Since 1921, when about 120,000 people lived there, the region has added 3 million residents and tens of thousands of new homes along low-lying waterfront property. In March, a couple in MI died of carbon monoxide poisoning while running a generator inside their enclosed garage attached to their house during widespread power outages from a windstorm.

Hurricane Irma weakened into a still-dangerous tropical storm Monday as it pushed inland, triggering record flooding in Florida's northeastern corner, while rescuers in its long, soggy wake struggled to reach victims and learn the full extent of the damage.

- Five storm-related deaths have been reported.

The situation in the Sunshine State was trying the patience of people who rode out the storm and those who came home to find widespread devastation and access to their neighborhoods limited at times. "About 70 people die every year and many more are injured from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by portable generators", the Consumer Product Safety Commission warns.