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 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.


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.

Are You In An Evacuation Zone? Here Is How To Know

Sep 8, 2017

As the possibilities of hurricane Irma hitting South Florida increase, authorities are encouraging residents to prepare for a possible landfall. Part of the preparations includes knowing if you live in an evacuation zone and making plans in case you are asked to leave your home. Here is how to know, for all four south Florida counties: Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach.  

Get the latest information about Hurricane Irma at

Nadege Green / WLRN

In Miami’s Overtown community, some families are receiving conflicting reports about the nearest shelter they could go to.

At the New Arena Court apartments tenants had hurricane-warning letters posted on their doors from the building’s management. For people who wanted to go to a shelter it directed them to Booker T. Washington High School, a “short walk from your building.”

Updated at 6 a.m. ET Saturday

Hurricane Irma is again a Category 4 storm as it slowly moves along the Cuban coast. The storm made landfall on the Camaguey archipelago of Cuba late Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center. As of 5 a.m. Saturday, the hurricane's center was just off the northern coast near central Cuba. The report puts Irma's traveling speed at 12 mph, about 245 miles south-southeast of Miami.

About 5.6 million people in Florida have been ordered to evacuate; forecasters expect the hurricane to hit Florida early Sunday morning.