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IRMA UPDATE: Nearly 12.5 Million Without Power In Florida

Hurricane and Tropical Storm Irma has left 62 percent of customers without power.

The Latest on Irma (all times local):

6:30 p.m.

Florida emergency management officials estimate nearly 12.5 million residents remain without power.

The updated number came during a briefing on Monday evening at the state’s emergency management center in Tallahassee.

Hurricane and Tropical Storm Irma has left 62 percent of customers without power.

Of the 6.5 million reported outages, nearly a third are in South Florida. Nineteen of Florida’s 67 counties report more than 100,000 outages.

The biggest outages are in Miami-Dade County (801,648) followed by Broward (629,134) and Palm Beach (505,520). Hendry County in the southwest part of the state is the only county listing 100 percent outages.

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6 p.m.

Authorities are reporting the first death in South Carolina related to Tropical Storm Irma.

Abbeville County Coroner Ronnie Ashley said 57-year-old Charles Saxon was cleaning limbs and debris outside his home in Calhoun Falls around 3 p.m. Monday when a limb fell on him.

Ashely said in a news release that Saxon died at the scene. An autopsy has been ordered.

The National Weather Service says winds in the area were gusting to around 40 mph (65 kph) at the time Saxon was killed. Calhoun Falls is located 60 miles (95 kilometers) south of Greenville, South Carolina.

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5:30 p.m.

Irma’s eye has finally left Florida and exited the state as a weak tropical storm with 50-mph (85-kph) winds.

The National Hurricane Center says the storm’s center is over southwestern Georgia, about 10 miles (15 kilometers) east of Albany. It is forecast to take a northwest turn Tuesday morning, moving into Alabama.

It is zipping north-northwest at 17 mph (28 kph) It is still a 415-mile (665-kilometers) wide storm.

Some, but not all, storm warnings in Florida have been discontinued, but storm surge is still expected along western Florida and from around Daytona Beach to South Carolina. South Carolina, Alabama and north central Georgia are expected to get 3 to 6 inches (7 to 15 centimeters) of rain with spots hitting 10 inches (25 centimeters). Northern Mississippi and southern Tennessee and parts of North Carolina are forecast to get 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 centimeters) of rain.

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5 p.m.

Officials say the 42-bridge roadway that connects the Florida Keys to each other and the mainland must be checked for safety before motorists can be allowed back onto the islands.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Monday that once officials are able to inspect, and to clear debris and sand from the Overseas Highway, it should be usable again.

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5 p.m.

Officials are reporting a second death in Georgia related to Tropical Storm Irma.

Georgia Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Catherine Howden said the death was confirmed Monday in Sandy Springs, north of Atlanta. She said she had no further details.

The storm is also being blamed for the death of a 62-year-old man in rural southwest Georgia. Worth County sheriff’s spokeswoman Kannetha Clem said the man use a ladder to climb onto a shed Monday morning as sustained winds in the county exceeded 40 mph (65 kph).

Clem says the man’s wife called 911 saying he suffered a heart attack, and first responders found his body lodged between two beams on the shed’s roof with debris on top of him.

The dead man’s name was not immediately released.

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4 p.m.

At least one of the Orlando, Florida, theme parks popular with tourists around the world has plans to reopen now that Hurricane Irma has moved out of the state.

Universal Orlando said Monday that all three of its parks will reopen at 9 a.m. Tuesday. Universal was closed down ahead of Irma.

Universal said its facility suffered relatively minor damage to fences, trees and building facades.

Disney World, Sea World and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay said Monday that they assessing damage and would announce their reopening plans later. All three theme parks said they never lost power. Sea World also said all of its animals are safe.

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3:45 p.m.

As South Carolina’s governor was issuing warnings about Tropical Storm Irma for the state’s residents, the storm toppled a massive oak tree on an apartment building he owns.

Gov. Henry McMaster says the tree fell on a building he owns in Columbia around noon Monday.

McMaster says the college students living at the apartments are safe. The governor says “no one suspected it might fall,” but the tree destroyed two apartments in the two-story building.

The Columbia Fire Department says the fallen tree has left up to eight people without a home, but no one was injured.

One displaced resident told WIS-TV the tree crashed through her apartment to the one below, taking furniture with it.

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3:30 p.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott says the Navy has deployed the USS Iwo Jima, USS New York and the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln to help with search and rescue and “a lot of other things” in the state.

Scott says he flew over the Keys and saw a lot of flood damage and boats that had washed ashore.

He says there is “devastation” and he hopes everyone who stayed behind survived Irma. He said almost every mobile home park in the Keys had overturned homes.

Scott also flew over the west coast of Florida on Monday and said the damage was not as bad as he thought it would be.

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3:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s homeland security adviser says Irma is still a dangerous storm despite being downgraded to a tropical depression.

Tom Bossert says while Irma’s category of strength may have been reduced, its combined effects might replicate that of a more powerful storm. Irma was once rated at Category 5 storm, the most powerful on record.

Bossert notes that Jacksonville, Florida, is experiencing some of the worst flooding it has seen in 100 years.

He says Tennessee and Kentucky, both targets as Irma moves to the U.S. interior, could experience inland flooding.

Bossert says his message to the millions of Floridians who evacuated before the storm hit is not to rush back home because conditions are still dangerous.

3:20 p.m.

Georgia officials say at least one person has been killed by Tropical Storm Irma.

Georgia Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Catherine Howden said Monday that one storm-related death has been confirmed in Worth County, about 170 miles (270 kilometers) south of Atlanta. She had no further details.

The county is located in southwest Georgia, where Irma’s center was churning northwestward toward Alabama on Monday afternoon. With tropical storm winds extending more than 400 miles (640 kilometers) from its center, Irma has caused damage across the state from trees falling on inland homes to flooding in neighborhoods on the Georgia coast.

The storm has also been blamed for one death in Florida. At least 36 people died in the storm’s wake across the Caribbean.

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3 p.m.

Communities along the Georgia coast are seeing extensive flooding from Tropical Storm Irma.

Irma’s storm surge pushed water ashore at the high tide Monday afternoon, and heavy rainfall made the flooding even worse. On Tybee Island east of Savannah, Hollard Zellers saw waist-deep water in the street as he went to fetch a kayak.

About 3,000 people live on Tybee Island, which is Georgia’s largest public beach. City manager Shawn Gillen said the waters seemed to be receding quickly, but most of the island appeared to have some level of flooding and water was in many homes.

Storm surge also sent floodwaters into downtown St. Marys just north of the Georgia-Florida line. St. Marys police Lt. Shannon Brock said piers and boat docks were heavily damaged and many boats sunk.

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3 p.m.

A massive sinkhole opened up at the edge of an apartment building in Orange County, Florida, swallowing air-conditioning units and bushes and a concrete slab. The sinkhole destabilized the building so seriously that firefighters evacuated dozens of residents amid the hurricane’s winds and pouring rain.

Ronnie Ufie heard a loud bang and her 6-year-old grandson saw sparks shoot up behind the building, then their power flickered out.

The fire alarm started screaming.

Ernest Almonor, who lives next door to Ufie, ran outside but saw no fire and went back inside.

But firefighters arrived and told them they had to leave the building. Ufie, who cares for her two young grandsons, grabbed some coloring books and crayons and headed through the rain for a neighbor’s house.

But most residents, around 25 people, ended up scrambling through the storm to hunker for the night in the complex’s clubhouse.

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3 p.m.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander has flown to St. Maarten to see firsthand the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Irma on the tiny Caribbean territory and express gratitude to relief workers struggling to deliver aid and start the process of rebuilding shattered communities.

Images broadcast by Dutch news outlets showed the king, wearing sunglasses and a khaki shirt with the sleeves rolled up, touring the badly damaged Princess Juliana International Airport . The airport, named for his grandmother, has become a vital hub for flights bringing in relief supplies as well as a gathering point for tourists and residents waiting to leave the island in the aftermath of last week’s devastating direct hit by Irma.

Later Monday, the king was scheduled to visit the hospital in the capital, Philipsburg, and a school that is being used as a coordination center for distributing aid. Willem-Alexander also was expected to meet police and troops who have been struggling to maintain order on St. Maarten, where widespread looting broke out after Irma had passed.

St. Maarten is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but has had broad autonomy since 2010.

After spending the night in St. Maarten, the king is flying Tuesday to two nearby Dutch islands, Saba and St. Eustatius, which also were hit by Irma, but suffered less damage.

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2:30 p.m.

State and federal environmental regulators have issued a blanket waiver for Florida electricity companies to violate clean air and water standards for the next two weeks.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced the decision in a letter issued Monday as Hurricane Irma blew through the state. The agency said the so-called No Action Assurance granted through Sept. 26 will provide Florida utility generators needed flexibility to maintain and restore electricity supplies.

The assurance letter will allow utilities to operate outside restrictions mandated by their permits, including potentially using dirtier fuels, running for longer hours or electively bypassing pollution-control equipment.

The Associated Press reported last week that air pollution levels spiked in the Houston area after a similar enforcement waiver was granted to petrochemical facilities ahead of Hurricane Harvey.

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2 p.m. 

In Florida, Hurricane Irma has brought dangerous floodwaters, knocked out power to millions and turned human possessions into debris in the past 24 hours. After making landfall on Sunday, the huge storm remained a Category 1 hurricane as it moved over the state’s northwest early Monday, before finally being downgraded to a tropical storm.

Irma has maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, with stronger gusts. At 2 p.m. ET, Irma’s center was about 50 miles south-southeast of Albany, Ga., and 55 miles east of Tallahassee.

Irma is now a tropical storm — but it still poses severe flooding threats across Florida and into neighboring states. The storm's predicted path is seen here in forecasters' 11 a.m. ET release.
Irma is now a tropical storm — but it still poses severe flooding threats across Florida and into neighboring states. The storm’s predicted path is seen here in forecasters’ 11 a.m. ET release.

Flash flood warnings have been issued in Jacksonville — a victim, like other eastern Florida areas, of the heaviest rains that are commonly found in hurricanes’ northeast quarter. Flood and tornado warnings have been issued for parts of coastal Georgia and South Carolina.

More than 6 million electricity accounts in Florida are currently without power, state officials say. While the full extent of Irma’s damage isn’t yet known, the storm has weakened at a faster rate than expected.

As the sun rose Monday, many Floridians anxiously began to assess the damage wrought by the hurricane, either inspecting their houses and neighborhoods for themselves or contacting those who stayed behind.

For those caught in Irma’s path — and wondering what to do after it passes — member station WLRN in Miami has assembled a guide to help.

Irma was a hurricane for part of 12 days, having been dubbed a hurricane on Aug. 31, when it was far from land in the Atlantic Ocean. For days, it was a Category 5 storm, wreaking havoc in the Caribbean, where recovery efforts are still underway.

On Monday morning, the storm brought storm surge risks as high as 4 to 6 feet above normal water levels in parts of Florida. Irma was also extending tropical-storm-force winds outward up 415 miles, the National Hurricane Center says.

The perilous storm and the massive evacuation it sparked were reflected in an unusual scene in Florida early Monday, when the state’s skies were empty of airliners. A screenshot taken by journalist Sam Sweeney shows, as he wrote, “not a single airplane over the state of Florida.”

Irma is moving north-northwest at nearly 17 mph — a motion that’s expected to continue through Tuesday. The storm’s center is forecast to move near the Florida Peninsula’s northwestern coast and cross the eastern Florida Panhandle into southern Georgia Monday afternoon. It will then move through southwestern Georgia and eastern Alabama through the night and into Tuesday.

Hurricane Jose is expected to make an unusual curlicue maneuver in the Atlantic as it passes north of Puerto Rico. By this weekend, it will be close to the northern Bahamas.

National Hurricane Center

Hurricane Jose, which had shadowed part of Irma’s route toward the Leeward Islands, has veered off north, as expected — but forecasters say the storm will follow an odd curlicue path over the next several days, putting it south of its current position and possibly threatening parts of the Bahamas this weekend.

When it arrived in Florida, Irma was more than 400 miles wide; the storm remains huge. Consider that when it made landfall at the bottom of Florida’s peninsula on Sunday, Irma’s thick bands of rain were already drenching parts of northern Florida and southern Georgia.

Hurricane Irma made landfall twice in Florida on Sunday, smacking into the Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm before moving over water and hitting Marco Island as a Category 3 on Florida’s southwest coast.

Here are some of the stories we’re seeing in Florida:

Jacksonville

The city has already seen bad flooding, as the St. Johns River overflowed its banks — and it’s going to get worse around 2 p.m., when high tide will come, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office says.

The sheriff’s office writes Monday morning: “Historic flood levels already. Levels will continue to rise. Expect 4-6 feet above normal high tide levels. You need to be concerned.”

Officials had been calling for people to leave areas along the St. Johns River, and to contact emergency numbers for help leaving. To those who didn’t leave, the sheriff’s office says, “If you can’t get out, you need to get to a house with a second story.”

Key West

The far-flung island lost power and phone connections, but some news began to emerge from Key West late Sunday night. Photographer Rob O’Neal relayed an account of damage, highlighted by flooding, and downed trees and utility poles. Some buildings had also lost their rooftops.

“Counted 10-20 utility lines & 20 trees down in Oldtown. Downed trees & tree limbs scattered throughout KW. Counted at least 100 ppl walking around outside after eye wall passed,” O’Neal said.

“Heaviest damage from Marathon to Lower Keys,” O’Neal said.

Thousands of people are believed to have resisted mandatory evacuation orders to stay in the Keys. Sunday night, Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay ordered a dusk-to-dawn curfew for the Keys.

Online

People in the hurricane’s path are using a Facebook group to check in and mark themselves as safe, with nearly 400,000 people in the group as of Monday morning, offering peace of mind to loved ones and giving a hint at this storm’s reach.

Members of the group also used it to commiserate, share tips, and vent their feelings about Irma.

As the sun rose Monday, they also shared some of what they’re seeing. A sample, from Davenport, in central Florida, where Benjamin McKinney wrote:

“Walked around to check out my yard. The neighbor’s screen patio was torn off and is laying in the street. The stop sign on the corner is missing. The neighbor behind us fence is down. We’re missing some pieces from our roof overhang. Our boughanvilla bush was uprooted and pulled our fence out. Nothing too crazy.”

Tampa

As the storm approached, it sucked water out of Tamp Bay and other areas, prompting curious residents to head out onto the muddy ground — and, in at least are, to rescue stranded manatees.

The hurricane center warned on Sunday, “Don’t be fooled by low water conditions on the FL W coast ahead of Irma, water will rapidly surge back when the winds change direction.”

Around midday on Monday, the National Weather Service office in Tampa extended flood warnings for at least 10 rivers, saying they’re close to flood levels — and will rise further.

“Significant river flooding will continue over the next several days as heavy rainfall from Hurricane Irma drains into West Central Florida rivers,” the agency says.

Orlando

From member station WMFE:

“Florida Highway Patrol said they’re seeing too many people out ‘sightseeing’ and not obeying the curfew. FHP reports trees are down and there’s standing water from the exit ramps at 528 to 520. Those ramps have been closed in both directions…
“FHP says traffic’s starting to build up on 95 and the Turnpike southbound. They expect traffic to pick up as the day goes on and people want to go home and check out their property. Officials say people can’t enter the Keys, so evacuees need to stay put.”

Miami

The city is focusing on clearing roads of debris trees, and sand — in some areas, parts of the beach have been pushed over roadways. Mayor Tomás Regalado said 72 percent of the city of Miami is currently without power, NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang reports. Police report at least 26 looting incidents, with 13 arrests made.

“At one time, Miami was dead in the center of the track, and could have been hit very hard,” NPR’s Jon Hamiton says on Morning Edition. But today, Jon says, much of the city looks “surprisingly normal” — at least out toward the airport.

“I have seen a whole lot of power trucks going by on the freeway out here,” Jon adds. “There’s still water on the ground in places, they’re picking up lots of palm fronds, but the city looks like it’s getting back in business.”

Miami International Airport saw wind gusts near 100 mph and “sustained significant water damage throughout,” the airport director, Emilio Gonzalez, said via Twitter. The facility is closed to passenger flights at least through Monday.

9:45 a.m.

Actress Kristen Bell says she’s “singing in a hurricane” while riding out Irma in Florida.

The “Frozen” star is in Orlando filming a movie and staying at a hotel at the Walt Disney World resort. She stopped by an Orlando middle school that was serving as a shelter and belted out songs from “Frozen.”

Back at the hotel, Bell posted pictures on Instagram of her singing with one guest and dining with a group of seniors.

Bell also helped out the parents of “Frozen” co-star Josh Gad by securing them a room at the hotel.

Bell tells Sacramento, California, station KMAX-TV — where her father is news director — that the experience is her version of one of her favorite movies, “Singin’ in the Rain.”

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9:30 a.m.

People are being rescued from flooded homes Monday morning south of Jacksonville, Florida, as Tropical Storm Irma pounds the state with rain and wind.

John Ward, the emergency operations manager of Clay County, says crews have pulled 46 people from flooded homes by early Monday and an undetermined number are still stranded as the area’s creeks and ponds are getting record flooding.

Ward says between 400 and 500 homes received severe flood damage but there have been no serious injuries or deaths.

Irma weakened to a tropical storm Monday morning, a day after hitting the state as a powerful Category 4 hurricane.

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9:05 a.m.

An Atlanta airport official says there’ve been around 800 cancellations due to the threat of Irma, which weakened to a tropical storm Monday morning.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport spokesman Andrew Gobeil says the airport will still be operational Monday and will monitor storm conditions.

Gobeil says the airport created an overflow parking plan to allow planes unable to land in areas such as Florida to park at the airport in Atlanta.

Also in Atlanta, the city’s transit system has suspended all bus and rail service ahead of the weather conditions caused by Irma.

Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority spokesman Erik Burton says both systems will be closed for Monday. He says officials will continue to coordinate with state and local officials along with emergency personnel to determine MARTA’s service schedule for Tuesday.

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9:05 a.m.

Much of central Florida, including Orlando, suffered significant damage as Irma blew through Sunday night and into Monday morning.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said Monday morning that there’s been widespread damage and significant power loss throughout the area.

Jacobs said approximately 300,000 residents in Orlando are without power. She also said 60 percent of the fire stations are operating on backup generators and dispatchers received 1,381 calls between Sunday at midnight and 5:45 a.m. Monday morning.

Residents are being asked to minimize usage such as flushing toilets, bathing, along with washing dishes and laundry.

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8:30 a.m.

Irma is causing record-setting flooding in Jacksonville, Florida, as it moves over the state Monday on its way to southern Georgia.

The National Weather Service in Jacksonville says storm surge flooding exceeds the record set in 1965 during Hurricane Dora.

The city on Florida’s northeastern Atlantic coast remains under a flash flood warning until 12:45 p.m. Monday.

Jacksonville Sheriff’s officials warned residents not to drive through standing water, adding that in addition to flooding, there are trees and power lines down across the area.

Irma weakened to a tropical storm Monday morning, a day after hitting the state as a Category 4 hurricane.

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8:30 a.m.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott says there’s damage across the state caused by Hurricane Irma and it’s still too dangerous for residents to go outside or return from evacuation.

Scott said Monday on Fox News that he’s concerned about flooding now unfolding in Jacksonville and the amount of damage in the Florida Keys. The governor will be flying out of Mobile, Alabama, on a U.S. Coast Guard plane down to the Keys where he plans to inspect the extent of the damage there.

Local officials in the Keys on Sunday warned of a humanitarian crisis due to Irma’s winds and storm surge.

Scott asked Floridians to be patient and warned that roads are impassable and that there are downed power lines.

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8:30 a.m.

Two children evacuated from Florida as Hurricane Irma approached have been killed in separate car crashes in Georgia.

News outlets report Woodstock police say 3-month-old Riley Hunt of Port St. Lucie, Florida, was struck by an SUV driven by a 17-year-old girl Saturday night and was later pronounced dead. DeKalb County police say an 11-year-old boy who was also traveling from Florida to Georgia was hit and killed by a car early Monday in Stone Mountain.

The identity of the boy hasn’t been released, and the cause of the crash is currently unknown.

The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office says Hunt’s mother, 28-year-old Kaitlyn Hunt, and 61-year-old Kathy Deming were also hit and are listed in critical condition. The incident remains under investigation. No charges had been filed.

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8 a.m.

Irma has weakened to a tropical storm as it moves over Florida toward southern Georgia.

The storm’s maximum sustained winds decreased Monday morning to near 70 mph (110 kph). The U.S. National Hurricane Center says it’s expected to weaken to a tropical depression by Tuesday afternoon.

Irma is centered about 105 miles (170 kilometers) north-northwest of Tampa, Florida, and is moving north-northwest near 18 mph (30 kph).

Irma hit southern Florida on Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane, bringing roof-ripping winds, gushing floodwaters and widespread power outages.

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7:45 a.m.

The National Guard and local fire rescue teams evacuated more than 120 flooding homes in Orange County, just outside Orlando, as Hurricane Irma moves over Florida.

Trees and power lines were down across town and floods cut off roads to a neighborhood.

As the sun rose in Orlando, many tried to go outside to survey the damage, but authorities warn that conditions remain dangerous and ask that people to abide by the curfew that lasts throughout most of the day.

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7:45 a.m.

Winds and rain from Hurricane Irma have moved into South Carolina and officials are warning residents to be very careful throughout the day.

A hurricane watch is in effect Monday from Edisto Beach into Florida. A storm surge warning and a tropical storm warning are in effect from near Georgetown into Florida.

A flash flood warning is in effect along the southern coast of South Carolina, where more than 40,000 were ordered to evacuate barrier islands.

The storm surge could reach 6 feet (2 meters), especially from late morning to mid-afternoon. Up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain is also possible.

Wind gusts of up to 60 mph (97 kph) are expected along the South Carolina coast. Forecasters say tornadoes are also possible.

South Carolina Electric & Gas reported more than 13,000 customers without service Monday morning.

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7:45 a.m.

The European Union says it has released 2 million euros ($2.4 million) to help the Caribbean islands hit hardest by Hurricane Irma.

EU’s humanitarian aid commissioner, Christos Stylianides, announced the assistance Monday, saying the money will go to key sectors such as health, water and sanitation and waste management.

The EU has already been involved in the emergency relief effort, and Stylianides said the bloc stands ready to provide longer-term assistance as well. He called it “our moral duty to help those in need whose lives and homes are being destroyed or severely threatened.”

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7:10 a.m.

Nearly 4.5 million homes and businesses across Florida have lost power as Hurricane Irma moves over the state.

And utility officials say it will take weeks to restore electricity to everyone. Farther north, more than 100,000 are in the dark in Georgia.

Much of eastern Alabama and coastal South Carolina are under tropical storm warnings as Irma pummels Florida, weakening on its march northward.

The National Hurricane Center predicts the storm will cross Monday into southwest Georgia, where a hurricane warning was in effect for a large rural area including the cities of Albany and Valdosta.

Rain already is falling in parts of the state, including metro Atlanta, early Monday.

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7 a.m.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says that while the city hasn’t escaped Hurricane Irma’s wrath, the situation isn’t as bad as they had feared.

Speaking Monday morning on MSNBC, Buckhorn said “What we thought was going to be a punch in the face was a glancing blow.”

Buckhorn did say there are a lot of downed power lines and debris.

He said Tampa’s officials have vehicles positioned “to be sure that when that surge comes in we can keep people out of the streets.”

He said he expected power to be out for some sections of Tampa for at least a couple more days.

Hurricane Irma is getting weaker as it moves over the western Florida peninsula after hitting the state Sunday as a Category 4 storm.

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6:45 a.m.

Police in Miami are investigating reports of people looting stores as Hurricane Irma hit the state.

On Sunday night, Miami police took two people into custody and detained two others.

Deputy Police Chief Luis Cabrera told the Miami Herald the officers went to the Shops at Midtown on Sunday afternoon as the winds of Hurricane Irma were at their strongest in South Florida. Cabrera says a group in a white truck hit multiple locations. Police have also received additional reports of looting in the city.

Police had issued a curfew Saturday night, partly to ward off looters by giving officers probable cause to stop anyone for being on the street during the storm.

Cabrera didn’t have specific details about the looting incidents.

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6:45 a.m.

The British government is defending its response to Hurricane Irma amid claims it has been slow to help its overseas territories devastated by the storm.

The British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and the Turks and Caicos islands were all pummeled by the hurricane last week, leaving thousands without electricity or shelter.

Opposition politicians have compared Britain’s response unfavorably to that of France, which has sent more than 1,000 troops, police and emergency workers to St. Martin and St. Barts.

Britain has dispatched a navy ship and nearly 500 troops, including medics and engineers.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Monday that Britain had responded strongly to an “unprecedented catastrophe.” He says the government will soon increase the 32 million pounds ($42 million) it’s pledged to the relief effort.

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6:30 a.m.

Police in Lakeland, Florida, say a family with small children was rescued from a car that was submerged in water as Hurricane Irma crossed the area.

Lakeland police said in a Facebook post that officers rescued the family of four early Monday as water reached the children’s car seats. No one was injured and police were able to get the family back to their home.

“When you become a police officer you hope to make a difference in the lives of others,” the Facebook post said. “Tonight, there is no doubt these officers made a difference.”

Lakeland is between Tampa and Orlando, off of Interstate 4.

Hurricane Irma is getting weaker as it moves over the western Florida peninsula after hitting the state Sunday as a Category 4 storm.

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6:30 a.m.

A Florida sheriff’s sergeant and a paramedic were trapped in a sheriff’s vehicle when a live power pole fell on the cruiser as they were returning from dropping off an elderly patient as Hurricane Irma moved over the state.

Polk County spokesman Kevin Watler said in a news release that Sgt. Chris Lynn and Polk County Fire Rescue paramedic James Tanner Schaill were trapped for about two hours late Sunday.

Crews from Lakeland Electric crews disconnected the lines around 1:15 a.m. Monday. Both men have returned to their jobs to continue assisting hurricane recovery efforts.

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6:10 a.m.

More than 120 homes are being evacuated in Orange County, just outside Orlando, as floodwaters from Hurricane Irma started to pour in.

The Orange County Emergency Operations Center said early Monday that the fire department and the National Guard are going door-to-door using boats to ferry families to safety. No injuries have been reported. The rescued families are being taken a shelter for safety.

A few miles away, 30 others had to be evacuated when a 60-foot sinkhole opened up under an apartment building. No injuries were reported in that incident.

Hurricane Irma is getting weaker as it moves over the western Florida peninsula after hitting the state Sunday as a Category 4 storm.

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5 a.m.

Hurricane Irma is getting weaker as it moves over the western Florida peninsula early Monday.

Irma hit Florida on Sunday as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, hammering much of the state with roof-ripping winds, gushing floodwaters and widespread power outages.

By Monday morning, Irma had weakened to a Category 1 hurricane with winds near 85 mph (135 kph). Additional weakening is forecast and Irma is expected to become a tropical storm over northern Florida or southern Georgia later in the day.

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4:45 a.m.

Dutch search and rescue experts are heading to the shattered former colony of St. Maarten to support the humanitarian relief effort in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

A team of 59 urban search and rescue experts is flying Monday to the Dutch territory that’s home to some 40,000 people, where 70 percent of homes were badly damaged last week by a direct hit from the Category 5 storm. Four people were killed and dozens injured.

The Dutch government also is sending extra troops to maintain order following widespread looting and robberies. The government says there are already nearly 400 extra troops in St. Maarten and that number will rise to some 550 over the next two days.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander is expected to visit the island Monday to show his support for local residents and the emergency services working to restore infrastructure and begin the process of reconstruction.

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2 a.m.

Irma weakened to a Category 1 storm as the massive hurricane zeroed in on the Tampa Bay region early Monday after hammering much of Florida with roof-ripping winds, gushing floodwaters and widespread power outages.

The hurricane’s maximum sustained winds weakened to 85 mph (135 kph) with additional weakening expected.

As of 2 a.m. EDT, the storm was centered about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Tampa and moving north-northwest near 15 mph (24 kph).

Irma continues its slog north along Florida’s western coast having blazed a path of unknown destruction. With communication cut to some of the Florida Keys, where Irma made landfall Sunday, and rough conditions persisting across the peninsula, many are holding their breath for what daylight might reveal.

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An earlier version of this report, incorrectly said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s comments were made on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show.

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