The nation’s rapt attention on Hurricane Irma waned Sunday evening after the massive storm took a path up the west coast of Florida rather than over the much more populated eastern shoreline. While wind and rain damage was evident, the hurricane did not wreak the level of damage millions of evacuees had expected. But the situation could now get worse.
As was seen with last month’s Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana, the worst of the destruction is not always immediate when a hurricane strikes. According to Weather.com from a combination of heavy rains and storm surges is a massive concern as Irma — now a tropical storm — moves its way from the northern reaches of Florida into Georgia and South Carolina Monday afternoon.
Eight inches of rain plus rising tides have caused the St. Johns River to get backed up, flooding downtown Jacksonville. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office warned residents to “get out now.” In fact, Jacksonville, on the east coast of Florida, seems to have gotten hit harder than Tampa, on the west coast, even though Irma seemed to hit Tampa more directly.
According to the New York Times, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said, “It’s looking good. The first blush is that not only did we dodge a bullet, but we survived pretty well. Not a lot of flooding. Tree removal, debris — don’t want to say it’s negligible, but it’s manageable.”
Further north in South Carolina, the Charleston Police Twitter feed was filled with reports of streets flooded with rain and seawater. In Georgia, nearly a million people were out of power as of 2:30 p.m. Eastern.
6.7 million customers were still without power in Florida, as of 3:45 p.m. Eastern. That’s 64% of customers, according to NPR.
As far as when electricity will be restored, “People need to understand this is going to take perhaps weeks, not days in some areas," said Southern Company CEO Thomas Fanning, according to CNBC.
Six deaths have been reported in the U.S. so far from Irma, four of them in Florida and two in Georgia, according to the Associated Press. The Florida Keys especially got hit hard:
Please continue to pray for the people in the midst of this storm and those who have already been hit hard. One of the crazy phenomenons caused by Irma is shocking the internet because of what it did to the ocean.