Irma Live Updates: Storm Weakens, but Millions Are Without Power in Florida

Jacksonville is inundated, while Tampa is ‘looking good.’

“We need you to heed our warnings,” Mayor Lenny Curry of Jacksonville said on Monday, explaining that high tides would raise river waters up to 6 feet above their normal levels and cause additional flooding.


The mayor urged residents to avoid drawing on city resources except for in emergencies, but said people who needed rescuing should raise a white flag to draw the authorities’ attention.

Jacksonville was facing a “trifecta” of water-related threats, city officials said: Storm surge, heavy rainfall over the weekend and Monday’s rising tides. “This is potentially a weeklong event with water and the tides coming and going,” Mr. Curry said.

In Tampa, Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who on Sunday warned residents that the city was about to get “punched in the face,” said on Monday that the city had been spared the storm’s worst.

“It’s looking good,” Mr. Buckhorn said. “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.”

The city was again spared from a direct hit by a hurricane, as has been its good fortune for more than 90 years running. How? “Because we live good lives, because we only get drunk once in a while,” Mr. Buckhorn joked. “No, I don’t have an answer for that.”

In St. Petersburg, tree limbs littered lawns and minor debris had blown onto roads but was not stopping traffic. Most businesses remained closed.

In Orlando, officials said the city had weathered the storm with relative ease. “I think that well be able to have Orlando up and running a lot quicker than we were able to do after Charley,” Mayor Buddy Dyer said, referring to a 2004 hurricane that hit the city.

Here’s how officials tried to help people on Marco Island.

Picking their way through ruined and waterlogged streets, rescue officials searched on Monday through neighborhoods on Marco Island, checking in on people who stayed behind during the storm, which made landfall there on Sunday.

“As soon as it was safe we went outside, and immediately began as the storm was coming at us and during the eyewall,” Capt. Dave Baer of the Marco Island Police Department said in an interview on Monday.

Officials were also assessing tens of thousands of homes and condominiums on the island, where an estimated 30 percent of the 20,000 permanent population did not evacuate, Captain Baer said.

Photo

Damage from Hurricane Irma on Marco Island, Fla., on Monday.

Credit
Eric Thayer for The New York Times

There were no deaths and no serious injuries, he said. The rescues were all fairly similar — people stuck in cars as they tried to evacuate or in houses that had some sort of structural collapse.

The storm surge had receded by daybreak. “Now all our streets are dry,” said Larry Honig, chairman of the City Council. “We are without power and water, but presumably we will be restored in a couple of days. There is minimal structural damage. I know of no lost homes.”

The governor is taking stock of the damage in the Keys.

Gov. Rick Scott headed to the Florida Keys on Monday to survey the extent of damage there and in other parts of South Florida. The governor was traveling aboard a Coast Guard aircraft to inspect the strings of islands and the bridges that connect them.

“The Keys I am very concerned about,” he told Fox News, adding that there were power lines out, impassable roads and unsafe bridges there.

“We are doing everything we can to get food and water throughout the state,” Mr. Scott said. “Most importantly we have got to save every life and we have got to make sure people understand it is still dangerous.”

He urged Floridians to be patient and to not rush out to check their houses or look around, saying they should listen to local authorities before leaving shelters. “Everybody has got to be patient as we work through this,” he said.

Miami residents are venturing out into the streets.

In Miami, spared from a direct blow but significantly flooded on Sunday, Mayor Tomás Regalado pleaded for residents to stay off the streets during a news conference Monday morning. About 70 percent of the city remained without electricity, and roads were not only impassable but traffic lights were not working, city officials said.

The mayor made the request at a morning news conference, where officials said another concern was that parts of two cranes had collapsed during the storm.

But in Brickell, a high-rise neighborhood, many people were already venturing out, cameras in hand, marveling at the number of trees that once lined the roads like Roman columns but now lay beaten and torn apart, defeated by the storm.

Tiffany Fields, who stayed at her home in Brickell throughout the storm despite an evacuation order, said on Monday that she had watched as the windows in a nearby building were blown out.

“It was a very long day,” she said. “When the winds were at their highest, I was worried I made the wrong decision.”

But by Monday, she was glad she stayed. She said she could not imagine spending three days in a shelter, cooped up and away from home. “That would have been the worst,” she said.

As Ms. Fields spoke, a steady stream of cars passed nearby, many returning home for the first time in three days to assess the damage and see if they could resume normal life.

A search-and-rescue team pauses to remember 9/11.

The search-and-rescue team from California had been up since before dawn, packing their gear and checking, again, their dozens of vehicles. But before California Task Force 1 would leave from Orlando for expected missions in the Florida Keys, they bowed their heads.

“On this day, it would be appropriate for us to say a few words,” said Chuck Ruddell, a leader of the task force and one of the approximately dozen current members who worked on rescue efforts in New York.

“On this day, the 16th anniversary of 9/11, it’s an obligation, I think, for each of us to remind ourselves of those who were killed, recognize those who survived in honor of the sacrifices of the first responders and those recovery workers who were there for so many days,” he said.

There was silence, followed by a few “amens.” Then the task force went back to work. The potential devastation of the Keys, Mr. Ruddell reminded the group, loomed.

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A search-and-rescue team with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Orlando, Fla., observed a moment of silence on Monday for victims on the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

Credit
Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

Reporting was contributed by Jess Bidgood from Tampa, Fla.; Alan Blinder from Orlando, Fla.; Trevor Aaronson from St. Petersburg, Fla.; Marc Santora from Miami; Caitlin Dickerson, Jonah Engel Bromwich and Christine Hauser from New York; and Russell Goldman from Hong Kong.


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