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Power Out For More Than 60 Percent Of Florida Homes And Businesses

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Florida Family Rescued From Car Submerged In Water During Hurricane Irma

But by the time Irma arrived in the middle of the night Monday, its winds were down to 100 miles per hour (161 kph) or less. But once the eye passes and the wind reverses, the water will rush back in.

"It wasn't supposed to be like this", CNN correspondent Sara Sidner said from Daytona Beach.

As we explained Sunday, the strong onshore wind is creating a storm surge.

As the sun rose, many Floridians tried to go outside to survey the damage, but authorities warn that conditions remain unsafe and ask that people to stay inside.

The county's coastal areas are now under a tropical storm warning.

Wind gusts near hurricane force have also hit the Florida Keys, the National Hurricane Center said on Saturday in an update on Hurricane Irma.

That's because numerous islands are now inaccessible. There is also the threat of tornadoes in southeast Georgia and coastal South Carolina, Ward said.

"US 1, the only road that comes in and out of the Florida Keys, there's three choke points - there are three places that are completely inaccessible". A total of some 9 million people in Florida may lose power, some for weeks, the Florida Power & Light Co said.

- More than 17,000 customers have already lost power in Savannah, Georgia.

As Irma reaches Florida, more watches and warnings will be issued.

Courtesy Lakeland Police Department
Courtesy Lakeland Police Department

Curfews were imposed in Miami, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and much of the rest of South Florida, and some arrests of violators were reported.

On Florida's west coast, meanwhile, resident Charley Ball said he expected a storm surge to completely engulf the affluent island of Sanibel where he lives.

Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, whose district includes the Keys, said, "It's clear that there's a lot of work to be done and this community's going to need a lot of support".

During its march up Florida's west coast, Irma swamped homes, uprooted trees, flooded streets, snapped miles of power lines and toppled construction cranes.

The fuel outages come as Florida officials order mandatory evacuations for many counties in South Florida ahead of the expected arrival of Hurricane Irma on Sunday.

Irma arrived as a Category 4 storm but had fallen to a Category 2 with 110 miles per hour (177 kph) winds by late Sunday afternoon and was continuing to weaken as it marched up Florida's Gulf Coast. The second one, in Marco Island, left the island without water and power, authorities said. "I actually was planning on staying here, but there is no water, there's not going to be any electric supply out here", said Amitesh Agarwal.

John Ward, the emergency operations manager of Clay County, said between 400 and 500 homes received severe flood damage but there have been no serious injuries or deaths.

No evacuations had been declared yet in neighboring SC, which hasn't had a major hurricane strike in almost 28 years. Some school districts in Georgia and Alabama are closed through Tuesday.

Before slamming into to the United States, Irma hit Cuba late Friday as a Category 5 hurricane.

Irma weakened to a still-deadly tropical storm as it swirled beyond Florida Monday, killing at least two people in Georgia, flooding the coast, sending trees crashing onto homes and forcing the world's busiest airport in Atlanta to cancel hundreds of flights.

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