Hurricane Irma continues to churn in Southeast

by Kelly McCabe

After leaving a trail of destruction in the Caribbean, Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida over the weekend, where it knocked out power and cell service to nearly 6 million residents. Five people reportedly died in Florida and 37 in the Caribbean as a result of Irma, ABC News reported. 

In Miami, the hurricane packed winds of up to 99 miles per hour that peeled roofs of homes and collapsed some of the city’s ubiquitous construction cranes, according to officials. By the time it arrived in the city, Irma was a Category 4 storm, down from Category 5 status earlier in the week. It has weakened to a tropical depression stretching from central Florida north to the Carolinas as Florida residents now wait for potentially dangerous storm surges along the Gulf Coast. 

Although Hurricane Irma is weakening, its size remains a wonder — its hurricane-force winds stretch 60 miles from the center while tropical storm-force winds reach a remarkable 400 miles, according to The Washington Post

In the wake of the storm, the airports in Miami and Fort Lauderdale are closed, as are public schools in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, which will remain shuttered indefinitely. Many of the schools are being used as shelters. 

In preparation for the storm last week, about 6.5 million Florida residents were ordered to evacuate as Hurricane Irma had the state in its crosshairs. The Federal Emergency Management Agency told the Miami Herald that 192,000 people in the southeastern U.S. are seeking somewhere to stay at 590 shelters. 

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