florida hurricanes

A massive but weakened Hurricane Irma zeroed in on the Tampa Bay region early Monday after hammering much of Florida with roof-ripping winds, gushing floodwaters and widespread power outages.

Snacks? Check. Bottled water? Check. Orion capsule?

Check.

At the Kennedy Space Center, in Cape Canaveral, Fla., 120 people settled in to wait out Hurricane Irma and oversee some of the nation's premier space technology. That includes the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle capsule. The four-person spacecraft — now in development — is intended to carry astronauts to the moon and beyond.

Kate Stein / WLRN News

"Where are the cots? Where are the blankets? Where's the back-up?" These were some of the questions evacuees at the Miami Edison Senior High School shelter were asking after waiting more than 36 hours for the arrival of Hurricane Irma. Food was running out. One person attempted suicide. And quite a few people left before the storm was over.

Updated at 9:13 p.m. on Sept. 10, 2017 

Hurricane Irma is moving northward, and dangerous storm surges are expected along the west coast of Florida, according to an 8 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center.  

Kate Stein / WLRN News

Some Palm Beach County residents who evacuated Hurricane Irma left everything behind, including pets. 

Palm Beach County’s animal control officers have been hustling to rescue abandoned animals.

Some of them were loose, some were in pens, some were tethered, according to Palm Beach County's Animal Care and  Control Director Dianne Sauve. She says officers rescued around 50 dogs and two cats over the past two days. 

Some animals were chained to trees and parked cars.

Officials say, with a potentially deadly hurricane on the way, it’s felony animal cruelty.

Wilson Sayre / WLRN News

The following is a collection of dispatches from WLRN reporters staying at shelters in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, which by 6 p.m. on Saturday were hosting almost 45,000 people (15,000 in Broward and more than 29,000 in Miami-Dade), as well as about 1,000 pets. 

Walter Michot / Miami Herald

Downed power lines, standing water, damaged buildings--hurricanes continue to be dangerous well after the last rain band has moved on.    

Joe Raedle / Getty Images via the Miami Herald

The Miami-Dade County shelter for people with special medical needs is full; pre-registration was required and about 2200 people are already in place.

County officials say if people with medical conditions did not pre-register for the special shelter, but are able to get to another shelter that’s not full, they should not be turned away from other shelters and should come prepared with necessary medication and equipment.

Residents who have a complex medical condition and need medical supervision, should call 311 for guidance, according to County Officials.

Associated Press

Just what type of help will the federal government and FEMA be able to provide for Hurricane Irma relief?

On Tuesday evening, President Donald Trump signed an emergency declaration for the 67 Florida counties. The declaration allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to deploy to the field, WLRN reported earlier this week.

Kyra Gurney / Miami Herald

If you’re headed to a shelter in Broward County: leave your king-size mattress and mini-refrigerator at home.

That was the message from Mayor Barbara Sharief on Saturday morning, who said some of the county’s shelters have filled up quickly because people have brought items with them that are larger than their allotted spots in school gyms and cafeterias.

More than 14,000 people have taken shelter in Broward county schools ahead of Hurricane Irma. All but two of the 21 shelters are nearly at capacity or full. The county will continue to open more, if needed.

Wilson Sayre / WLRN News

As projections place the eye of Hurricane Irma farther west, some people have decided to leave the shelter at Falcon Cove Middle School, located in Weston and ride out the storm in their homes.

They’ve been walking out with their water and mattresses on their back.

John Mejia arrived at the shelter Friday night with his family. On Saturday morning, he rolled his blue cooler out of the shelter and packed it into the family van to drive back to their Weston home, built after Hurricane Andrew.

Gina Jordan/WLRN

About four miles from the state emergency operations center in Tallahassee, FEMA is gathering the first responders that will be deployed around Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. 

Emergency medical responders from several states are ready to act, including Lynn Pitts is from Stone Mountain, Georgia. She has some advice after working in Texas following Hurricane Harvey.

Monique O. Maddan / Miami Herald

At a shelter in Miami Edison High School on Friday night, Miami's city commissioner Francis Suarez said a new round of shelter openings — including Miami Northwestern High School and Shenandoah Middle School — will help Overtown residents.

Previously, Overtown residents had received mixed messages about whether or not the Booker T. Washington High School would be used as an evacuation shelter. 

And, Suarez says, the ride-sharing company Lyft has given $10,000 to help low-income people throughout the city of Miami evacuate.

Flickr

Irma? There's an app for that.

Officials are encouraging South Florida residents to download smartphone apps for last-minute storm prep and to keep updated during the hurricane and its aftermath.

Among the suggested apps:

Florida Power and Light app: To monitor power outages

Florida 511: For real-time traffic updates

Gas Buddy: Shows gas stations and prices based on location

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Key West has seen a lot of hurricanes over the years — but the island itself hasn't had a direct hit since 1919 (though there were a couple of near misses, with Hurricane Georges moving across the Lower Keys in 1998 and Wilma swamping the island from the west in 2005).

Some islanders attribute that string to the supernatural - the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto.

Dedicated in 1922 by the Catholic community in the Keys to honor Sister Louis Gabriel, the grotto is located next to what is now the Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea. 

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