The National Hurricane Center warned of life-threatening storm surges there that could reach 10 feet.
Irma, packing maximum sustained winds of 215 kilometres per hour, was upgraded overnight to a Category Four storm as it closed in on the Keys, the National Hurricane Centre said.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Irma's wrath is unprecedented, warning that storm surges could be deadly. "Just the nervousness, trying to keep an eye on it to see if its track will change", he said. Myers, the Tampa/St. Petersburg metro, Miami, West Palm Beach, Tallahassee, Thomasville and Valdosta. By Sunday morning, a little over 380,000 people were already without power. Authorities are still trying to determine the extent of damage to the island but he said 28 police officers lost homes during the storms.
Irma had triggered orders for more than six million people to flee to safety, one of the biggest evacuations in US history. An airborne relief mission, led by C-130 military cargo planes, was set to bring emergency supplies to the Keys. It will only extend the period of uncertainty among investors, corporations and consumers; it will complicate the process of delivering meaningful tax reform; and it will reduce the chances of other key legislation being achieved this year and perhaps even next.
Many streets were flooded in downtown Miami and other cities. The declaration allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to deploy to the field.
Flooding was also reported in Charleston, South Carolina. Included in the hurricane warnings are the Florida Keys, Naples, Ft.
There were no injuries reported.
"All the interior doors are starting to rattle now, sounds like someone is knocking on the front door", he said".
The storm has been blamed for more than 40 deaths, including six in Florida.
Because the storm is 350 to 400 miles wide, the entire Florida peninsula was exposed.
John Huston, who stayed in his Key Largo home, watched his yard flood even before the arrival of high tide. He doesn't know when his mother is going home - and for that matter, he doesn't know when he's going home.
"Irma remains a very powerful and destructive hurricane", AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.
On Wednesday, the fierce storm hit the northeastern Caribbean islands with 185 mph winds, moving through Barbuda and St. Martin. Or it could jog east, exposing this area to higher-intensity - even hurricane-force - winds.
Across the peninsula, the Gulf coast city of Fort Myers also was battening down for Irma's screaming winds, rain and storm surge.
"The Keys through Tampa will likely experience the worst storm surge event that area has seen in generations", Bill Read, a former Hurricane Center director, told the Washington Post.
-It spent three consecutive days as a top-of-the-scale Category 5 hurricane, the longest in the satellite era. There's going to be overflows. "Let's just say a prayer we hope we make it through".
Real-time traffic maps from the state showed the gridlock that paralyzed motorists on Thursday, Friday and Saturday had dissipated, indicating that most all residents who wanted to flee had.
- President Donald Trump tweeted links for Florida residents looking for information. "But this one scares me", Sally Carlson said as she snapped photos of the waves crashing against boats in St. Petersburg.
- Hurricane warnings were extended north along Florida's west coast as far as Perry, and along the eastern coast to include Fernandina Beach, north of Jacksonville.
States of emergency was declared in Florida, Georgia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico to prepare for Irma's landfall.
The storm is then project to strike Southwest Florida near Sanibel and Naples about 2 p.m. Sunday, and then hug the west coast of Florida, passing directly over Tampa Bay in the early hours of Monday morning.
Hurricane Andrew smashed into suburban Miami in 1992 with winds topping 165 mph (265 kph), damaging or blowing apart over 125,000 homes.