Washington, Sept 10: Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida in the wee hours of Sunday. The storm, described as catastrophic by experts, struck the peninsular region of Keys upon its arrival. The coastal city of Key West was worst affected.Also Read - Space X's First All-Civilian Mission 'Inspiration 4' to Launch Tomorrow | Deets Inside
Florida Governor Rick Scott appealed citizens still left behind in the state to evacuate as early as possible. Stating that the storm is bound to cause destruction, Scott claimed those who choose to remain at their residences in the peninsular region are “doing so at their own risk”. Also Read - SpaceX's First All-Civilian Mission 'Inspiration4' to Launch on Sep 15. All You Need to Know
“If you have been ordered to evacuate, you need to leave now. This is your last chance to make a good decision,” Florida Governor Rick Scott said at a news briefing. Also Read - Model Unable to Sit Down After Rs 14 Lakh Buttock Surgery, But Now Earns in Crores!
Till midnight, a total of 36 million people had been evacuated, reported CNN.
The major concern for Florida was the storm surge, which is like a sustained high tide that can cause devastating flooding, warning that it could reach as high as 15 feet in some areas.
Waves of approximately 20 feet in height were expected to strike the Keys on the first day of Irma, claimed US media reports. Winds, in the preliminary stage of the storm, could be as fast as 200 km/hr.
Incessant rainfall was witnessed in the Keys, along with other parts of Florida ahead of Irma making its landfall. Power and electricity was cut off due to copious rainfall in almost all parts of the state.
In Key West, massive flooding was already reported before the storm struck. The harsh weather before Irma making the landfall turned it difficult for the last-minute evacuees to reach the neighbouring Georgia.
The authorities had ordered the evacuation of more than five million people from the most vulnerable areas, especially along the shoreline, where Irma is expected to raise tide levels by up to 20 feet.
The state has been bracing for the arrival of Irma for days now on an emergency footing and thousands of people have left the most vulnerable counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach for safer areas, while those who stayed have been spending days fortifying their properties against the onslaught of the hurricane.
On Saturday night, Irma unleashed strong tornadoes in southern Florida while its eye was still on the coast of Cuba and even though it had lost some of its strength.
A storm surge warning is in place for the Florida Keys, Tampa Bay, and an extensive stretch of coastline, wrapping most of the way around the state. At 11 on Saturday night, it was extended as far west as the Ochlockonee river.
The worst affected by the Hurricane so far are the Caribbean islands, where a total of 24 people lost their lives and hundreds were rendered homeless. The islands of Barbados was worst affected with nearly 90 per cent of properties being damaged.