Hurricane Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm by the National Hurricane Center this morning after moving through most of Florida as a category 2 hurricane, hitting Marco Island as a category 3 on Sunday and causing five deaths in the United States.
Irma, now on its way to Georgia, had spent more time as a category 5 than any previous storm. It grazed the Florida Keys Sunday as a category 4.
Irma drenched parts of Florida with more than a foot of rain and carried sustained winds of about 100 mph for much of the day Sunday. The hurricane caused Miami streets to turn into canals and videos of strong wind, rain and surge damage circulated on social media throughout the day.
The Miami Herald gathered photographs and video from photographers and readers during the worst of Hurricane Irma on Sunday.
Though Irma was not the powerful hurricane that had been feared for more than a week, residents of South Florida and the Florida Keys were awaiting daylight this morning to get a sense of the destruction, according to the Miami Herald.
Irma may have cut the Florida mainland a break — the storm weakened over Cuba on Saturday, wobbled east so its category 4 eye missed Key West on Sunday, then stayed inland of Naples to skirt Tampa today.
Jeff Gammons posted this video of wind in Naples.
In downtown Naples the initial indication was that the city avoided major structural damage and flooding, Mayor Bill Barnett told the TC Palm.
More than 5.7 million people were without power in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott’s office told CNN.
Florida officials had ordered more than 6.5 million residents to leave their homes, one of the largest emergency evacuations in American history, according to The New York Times.
About 540,000 people were told to leave the Georgia coast. Alabama, North Carolina and South Carolina have declared a state of emergency.
Irma’s landfall in the Florida Keys Sunday morning means that 2017 is the first year on record that two category 4 or higher hurricanes have made landfall in the same year, according to CNN.
Irma is the strongest Atlantic basin hurricane ever recorded outside the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. It spent three days as a category 5 hurricane, the longest category 5 since satellite storm tracking began, CNN reported. No storm on record has maintained winds of 185 mph or above for as long as Irma — total of 37 hours.
Tornado watches and warnings were issued across Florida by National Weather Service locations on Sunday, and there were reports of several tornadoes touching down.
The Palm Bay Police Department tweeted photos that Lt. Mike Bandish took of destruction caused by tornadoes.
President Trump approved a request from Florida for a disaster declaration, ordering federal aid to supplement state, tribal and local recovery efforts.
The action makes federal funding available in nine counties, including Miami-Dade and Hillsborough, which covers Tampa. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs, according to CNN.
The Martin County Sheriff’s Office was called Sunday to rescue a couple who initially thought they’d ride the storm out on their sailboat — despite being unable to swim.
BoatUS was sending a catastrophe response team to Florida this morning in a fleet of RVs because housing might be scarce, Scott Croft, BoatUS vice president of public affairs, told Trade Only.
“It’s all hands on deck right now,” Croft said, adding that he will join the catastrophe team.
Freedom Boat Club, with 17 locations on the west coast of Florida and a fleet of about 500 boats, as well as franchises throughout Florida and the East Coast, also did not have a clear picture of the damage.
“We're under it all night and until the wee hours with curfews, so likely won't know anything [Monday],” Venice, Fla., resident Wanda Kenton Smith, chief marketing officer for Freedom Boat Club, said Sunday. “I have power still, but other friends and colleagues don’t.”
“Marco Island is in the eyewall of [the] storm,” Kenton Smith said on Facebook Sunday afternoon. “We have a club there and in Naples — and all the way up the coast. Praying for the best!”
“The weird thing is how the water is going out,” Kenton Smith told Trade Only, referring to a phenomenon posted on social media throughout the day Sunday as Irma sucked water from areas normally covered by ocean.
“Probably about half of our locations, we have the ability to pull boats out of the water,” Freedom Boat Club president John Giglio told Trade Only last week. “Often we can’t get all our boats out, but we’ll get what we can out and stick them in racks.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott tweeted warnings to residents not to stand on beaches that are normally under ocean water, cautioning that the water will return in force.
The Coast Guard pre-staged helicopters, boats and people in Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia, coming from as far as Alaska to respond to Irma impacts, the Coast Guard Southeast tweeted on Sunday.
Capt. Chris Argiro, of Sea Reaper Charters, posted a video of himself pulling a catfish out the water with his hands, in his driveway, with the caption:
Irma sucks but at least I can fish in the yard for a few days:#armoredcatfish #hillbillyhandfishin #hurricaneirma #ftmyers