Following its journey through the Caribbean, Hurricane Irma has officially hit Florida, The New York Times reports. Although the storm weakened to a Category 3 hurricane by Sunday afternoon, it swept through the Florida Keys early that morning and then headed to the state’s southwest region.
ABC News says that at least three are already dead in Florida, including a sheriff’s deputy, while more than 1.5 million residents statewide are now left without power. With Florida experiencing winds currently around 120 miles per hour, Gov. Rick Scott said, “The biggest thing you can do now is pray.”
The governor has also requested a Major Disaster Declaration from President Donald Trump for the entire state.
— Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) September 10, 2017
The storm is expected to reach western cities such as St. Petersburg and Tampa by Sunday night. On Florida's east side, Miami experienced "surging waters," but wasn't directly hit. Although it's unclear how strongly Irma will affect surrounding states, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina and South Carolina have all declared states of emergency.
— Joseph De La Cruz (@RealJosephDLC) September 10, 2017
— Devin Sena (@DevinSenaUI) September 10, 2017
According to The Washington Post, there have already been reports of people impersonating utility employees in order to rob people's homes. Similar encounters occurred in Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Amidst the ordered evacuation of more than 6.5 million people, St. Petersburg, Tampa and Miami Beach have issued curfews for remaining residents.
Meanwhile, the post-Irma death toll in the Caribbean has risen to at least 25 confirmed deaths.
The storm is far from over for the Southeast. As it surges through Florida, Irma isn't expected to hit other states until Monday and Tuesday.
Our thoughts are with those in all affected regions. Stay safe!