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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 WLRN.org/weather

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.

Traffic jams across the state trapped evacuees for hours Thursday, but Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) chief spokesman Captain Jeffrey Bassainthe says his agency has enough personnel to do the job.

“Well we have over 1,700 troopers staffed, so like I said, all personnel, office personnel, are out of the office, days off have been cancelled and we’re working 12-hour shifts," said Bassainthe. "We want to ensure that we have maximum staffing and that we’re out there to assist the public into helping them get there safely.”

Update: 9/10/17: Gulf, Madison, Taylor and Wakulla County Schools have announced extended closures. FAMU, FSU and TCC will remain closed through Friday.

Original Story: Public schools, colleges and universities will be closed starting Friday through Monday, says Gov. Rick Scott. A change in Hurricane Irma's forecasted path has prompted the closures which is in effect for schools across the state. Some colleges, universities and school districts have announced longer closures.

Most Florida Flood Zone Property Not Insured

Sep 8, 2017

As Hurricane Irma bears down on Florida, an Associated Press analysis shows a steep drop in flood insurance across the state, including the areas most endangered by what could be a devastating storm surge.

In just five years, the state's total number of federal flood insurance policies has fallen by 15 percent, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency data.

Florida's property owners still buy far more federal flood insurance than any other state — 1.7 million policies, covering about $42 billion in assets — but most residents in hazard zones are badly exposed.

Hurricane Irma evacuations now involve more than South Florida residents taking to the roads.

The 6th Air Mobility Wing at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base is temporarily evacuating its KC-135 refueling planes to McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas.

Updated at 10:45 a.m. ET

The disaster relief bill given final approval by Congress on Friday can't come too soon for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Without a new injection of funds, officials said FEMA's cash box would be empty as early as this weekend, right around the time that Hurricane Irma is scheduled to slam into southern Florida, while southeast Texas and Louisiana are still drying out from Hurricane Harvey.

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