Home / International/ Over 1 million without power as Irma bears down on Florida

Over 1 million without power as Irma bears down on Florida

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Monday, 11 September 2017 00:00

MIAMI/FORT MYERS, Fla (Reuters) - Packing 130-mph (210-kph) winds, Hurricane Irma knocked out electricity to more than 1 million Florida homes and businesses on Sunday and threatened the state’s Gulf Coast with potentially catastrophic flooding.

The storm, one of the most powerful ever recorded in the Atlantic, passed over the Florida Keys archipelago off the state’s southern tip and was on a course for the state’s western coast, which was expecting storm surges - water driven ashore by the winds - of up to 15 feet (4.6 m), according to the National Hurricane Center.

 “I am very concerned about the west coast,” Florida Governor Rick Scott told “Fox News Sunday.” The coastline is home to cities like Tampa and St. Petersburg.

Irma, which prompted one of the largest evacuations in U.S. history, is expected to cause billions of dollars in damage to the third-most-populous U.S. state, a major tourism hub, with an economy comprising about 5 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.

About 1.1 million Florida homes and businesses had lost power by mid-morning as the storm pummeled the southern part of the state, utility Florida Power & Light said.

Irma is currently a Category 4 hurricane that has now passed over the lower Florida Keys and is headed toward the mainland, the NHC said in its latest update.

Irma, which killed at least 22 people as it tore through Caribbean islands toward Florida, has already claimed at least one life in the state. Emergency responders in the Florida Keys said they pulled a man’s body from his pickup truck, which had crashed into a tree in high winds.

The storm winds downed trees and signs and shook buildings in Miami, which was still 100 miles (160 km) from Irma’s core.

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