hurricane

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.

Florida Power & Light

 

UPDATE 1:15 p.m.:  Florida Power and Light says power has been restored to 60,000 customers this morning. Crews will pull back when winds hit 35 mph.

 

As Hurricane Irma begins its descent on Florida Saturday morning with bursts of heavy rain and wind, Florida Power & Light is tracking power outages on their site. It has already reported numerous outages in places including Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

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. 

This post was updated on Sept. 10, 2017 at 10:46 a.m.  

As Hurricane Irma slams into the Florida Keys and brings hurricane-force winds and storm surges to South Florida, residents are hunkered down in emergency shelters. And while some shelters have closed their doors for the most dangerous storm conditions, you should still know what your evacuation zone is and where to go.

Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and locally elected officials urged south Floridians to obtain several days worth of food, water and medicine and finish fortifying their homes against Hurricane Irma by Friday evening, before strong winds are expected to arrive.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

The slight veer south in the projected track of Hurricane Irma led some Florida Keys holdouts to hit the road Friday.

The entire Florida Keys island chain has been under a mandatory evacuation order for residents since Wednesday evening.

Still, some residents are sticking it out. Including Kerry and Diane Shelby of Key West.

"The entire state of Florida's evacuating. So we looked at both options and it just looked a little too difficult to get out," Kerry Shelby said. "So we decided we were on the good side of the storm, we were going to stay here."

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Lake Okeechobee is currently at 13.7 feet, which is a slight increase over the course of the week, despite days of water releases into the estuaries surrounding the lake.

While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does not at this point believe the aging Hoover Dike is at risk of breach, there are three places where they expect significant amount of water to splash over and potentially stream over the top of those sites.

Hurricane Irma, which battered the Caribbean with winds up to 185 mph, has its sights on Florida with winds now around 150 mph. according to the National Hurricane Center.

Those are really strong winds. Imagine speeding down the highway at 70 miles an hour with your car window open. You stick your hand out and hold it in the wind.

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