Jamathon 2017

HURRICANE IRMA: Florida Keys hit hard by Irma

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irma-florida.jpgHurricane Irma bludgeoned Florida on Sunday, snapping trees like matchsticks and knocking out power to more than 1 million people.

Hurling 130 mph winds, the Category 4 storm made landfall on Cudjoe Key, the National Hurricane Center said. But even more powerful could be the storm surges that threaten to swallow Florida's coastal cities. "There is imminent danger of life-threatening storm surge flooding along much of the Florida west coast, including the Florida Keys, where a storm surge warning is in effect," the hurricane center said.

"The threat of catastrophic storm surge flooding is highest along the southwest coast of Florida, where 10 to 15 feet of inundation above ground level is expected. This is a life-threatening situation." Still, not everyone heeded orders to evacuate coastal Florida.

Wayne Ploghoft is hunkered down on the third floor of a building on Marco Island -- where catastrophic storm surges are imminent.

Ploghoft said he wasn't able to evacuate because his flight plans didn't work out. Now Ploghoft and three others are holed up with stockpiles of water, canned food and battery power.

"We're all going to be OK," Ploghoft said.

But Gov. Rick Scott said Irma's wrath is unprecedented.

"We have never had anything like this before," he told CNN Sunday. In Florida and southern Georgia, more than 8 million people face hurricane-force winds topping 74 mph, said Ryan Maue of WeatherBell Analytics.

Almost the entire state of Florida is under a hurricane warning affecting at least 36 million people, with concerns of catastrophic gales, torrential rain rain and deadly storm surges.

Miami is also taking a beating from Irma. Ferocious winds knocked out power to more than 680,000 customers in the Miami-Dade area, and at least one construction crane snapped.

Jamathon 2017

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