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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.

Associated Press

Barbuda was the first. A Category 5 Hurricane Irma swept the island with its powerful 185 mile per hour winds. One person died. The prime minister said 95 percent of the buildings were destroyed after the storm passed.

On Wednesday, Irma made history: It became one of the most powerful recorded storm in the Atlantic Ocean. It bulldozed the U.S. Virgin Islands, ripping roofs off houses in St. Barts and flooding St. Martin. By the time the hurricane left St. Martin and St. Barts, 11 people died. 

Wilson Sayre / WLRN News

While many people in shelters across South Florida are glued to televisions, anxiously waiting for Hurricane Irma to pass, there have been some happy moments as these shelters turn into mini communities.

Among stacks of blankets and air mattresses in the cafeteria at the Falcon Cove Middle School shelter in Weston, Hunter Fugh squirts icing from a tube onto a cake.

"It's chocolate flavored and it has chocolate frosting on the top. We’re eating cake because it’s my birthday," said now 6-year-old Hunter.

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. 

Eric Gay / AP via Miami Herald

Two days ago – when Hurricane Irma was forecast to hit Miami directly as a Category 5 storm – Miami-Dade County was staring at a potential storm surge of 10 feet. Now that Irma’s path has shifted west to Florida’s Gulf coast, the surge is expected to be half that.

But Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez is warning that’s still enough to cause not just dangerous flooding but drowning – especially since South Florida may well experience the equivalent of Category 1 or 2 hurricane winds when Irma arrives early Sunday.

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.    

Virginia Aponte / Courtesy

After killing more than 20 people across the Caribbean this week, Hurricane Irma ravaged Cuba’s northern coast Friday night and Saturday morning – and may hammer Havana before it moves into the Florida Straits headed for the Keys on Sunday.

“The television pictures we’re seeing from the middle coast are very bad,” Havana resident Carlos Caridad told WLRN Saturday afternoon. “Housing and building construction out there is not as good as it is here, and we’re seeing a lot of wrecked houses in places like Camagüey [province].”

David Santiago / Miami Herald

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and other South Florida government leaders have an emphatic message for residents this afternoon: a hurricane is still visiting you tonight and tomorrow.

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.

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.

Share Your Hurricane Irma Story With WLRN

Sep 9, 2017

Thank you for staying with us as we covered Hurricane Irma. Our team spoke with some of you at shelters, on the streets and at your homes. You called in when we were live on the radio for 31 hours, asked us great questions and told us what you saw around you. You tweeted at us and shared your stories on Facebook.

Now, we want to hear from you again: tell us how you're doing and what you're dealing with.

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.

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.

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