Published: Thu, September 14, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Ellis Neal

President Trump Makes Disaster Assistance Available for Storm Victims

President Trump Makes Disaster Assistance Available for Storm Victims

Waves as high as 23 feet were recorded, and bigger ones remained a possibility as Irma plodded west, officials said.

Irma is expected to regain strength as it steams over warm waters south of Florida, according to the NHC. We've got to get the first responders to the Keys. "What's going to happen now?" "I would caution people to be very patient here", said Tom Bossert, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism.

Utility officials are warning residents that it could take weeks to get the lights back on in parts of the Southeast.

At least four deaths have been tied to the storm, including a Hardee County sheriff's deputy and a Florida Department of Corrections officer, who were involved in a auto crash.

"People who bag your groceries when you're on vacation - the bus drivers, hotel cleaners, cooks and dishwashers - they're already living beyond paycheck to paycheck", said Stephanie Kaple, who runs an organization that helps the homeless in the Keys.

The former hurricane remained an huge, 415-mile (668-kilometer) wide storm as its center moved on from Florida Monday afternoon, giving its still-formidable gusts and drenching rains a far reach. By early afternoon, it was pushing into Georgia with winds of 60 miles per hour (97 kph). Almost 19,500 FPL employees and workers from other utilities and electrical contracting companies are working to restore power, mostly in the utility's South Florida service territory.

In Coral Gables, near Miami, fallen trees made streets look like jungle, and damaged power lines could be heard buzzing.

On the French-Dutch island of St. Martin, where Irma hit when it was a Category 5 monster, green hills were reduced to piles of brown debris, with the majority of the island's homes likely destroyed as communications began to be restored.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office warned residents along the St. Johns River to "Get out NOW". "And you put your life in your own hands by not evacuating".

Search-and-rescue teams made their way into the more distant reaches of the Keys, and an aircraft carrier was positioned off Key West to help.

Transportation officials are trying to determine whether bridges between the islands can withstand any weight.

The Lower Keys - including the chain's most distant and most populous island, Key West, with 27,000 people - were still off-limits, with a roadblock in place where the highway was washed out. Charleston police asked residents to avoid downtown in anticipation of high tide. The National Hurricane Center warned that the storm would bring "life-threatening wind impacts to much of the state". More than 100,000 customers were without power in Georgia and over 80,000 in SC. While the full extent of Irma's damage isn't yet known, the storm has weakened at a faster rate than expected. In St Martin, 15 people were killed. The area has not been struck by a major hurricane since 1921, when its population was about 10,000, National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said. But by the time it struck in the middle of the night Monday, its winds were down to 100 miles per hour (161 kph) or less. For the first time ever, a tropical storm warning was issued in Atlanta, which sits more than 250 miles from the ocean.

The Nielsen company said Tuesday that its ratings information from this past weekend is delayed because the company's processing center in Tampa, Florida, was shut down because of Irma.

Winds knocked a utility pole and power lines onto a sheriff's cruiser late Sunday in Polk County east of Tampa, illustrating the risky conditions for emergency personnel.

"The hurricane winds lashed the shutters violently, throughout the night", he wrote in a text message, "making sleep impossible".

And more than 120 homes were being evacuated early Monday in just outside Orlando as floodwaters started to pour in. Firefighters and the National Guard were going door-to-door and using boats to ferry families to safety.

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