More than a million homes and businesses in Miami-Dade and Broward counties were without power Sunday morning as Hurricane Irma began its assault on the lower Florida Keys and hurricane force gusts were reaching South Florida. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew caused $27 billion in damage.
Tropical storm winds were expected in Savannah as well, prompting authorities Sunday afternoon to close the towering Talmadge Memorial Bridge that spans the Savannah River between Georgia and SC.
Storm surges were largely to blame for the deaths and destruction brought about by Hurricane Katrina (2005).
Numerous hurricane warnings and watches are in effect, including the Tampa Bay region and all of south Florida. "Included in the hurricane warnings are the Tampa/St. Petersburg metro, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Thomasville and Valdosta".
From there, Irma is expected to continue weakening as it crosses through Florida.
As is so often the case with these storms, Irma could have been worse: A last-second 50-mile jog inland likely prevented higher storm surge across cities on Florida's western coast, including Tampa. "We have serious flooding, presumably caused by the storm surge, and many streets are covered up to the mailboxes (or) blocked with downed trees and road signs".
"I've had phone calls all day long about nursing homes and assisted living that don't have their power", Gov. Rick Scott said at a press conference Monday. Bucket trucks, ones hauling transmission lines and others are on the way. "It is time to take this storm seriously". If you have damage, take pictures and submit a damage assessment report by clicking here.
The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, which sends relief supplies along with spiritual and emotional counseling to victims of disasters, has also said that it is ready to send in chaplains to help with Irma.
"Intense rainfall rates of 2 inches or more per hour is leading to flash flooding and rapid rises on creeks, streams, and rivers", the National Hurricane Center said.
Speaking about the havoc wrecked across the Atlantic, Munday added: "My heart goes out to the people on these islands because they didn't have the resources, the shelter, the ability to prepare as we would have on the mainland, which makes them more vulnerable".