‘I don’t see prayer as a last resort, it should always be a first resort’: FL. Gov. Scott
Hurricane Irma weakened to a Category 2 storm, technically losing its major hurricane status, after making landfall with southwestern Florida.
It is hugging the west coast of Florida as it moves north, but both coasts are taking a beating in the 400-mile-wide storm.
The National Hurricane Center said Irma’s winds were at 110 mph, just below major hurricane status.
It was battering Naples after coming ashore on Marcos Island at 3:35 p.m. It could hit the Tampa-St. Petersburg area early Monday.
Overall, the storm has submerged streets in Florida, caused power outages for millions and snapped huge construction cranes in Miami.
So far, there have been no immediate confirmed reports of deaths in Florida. Twenty-four people died in the Caribbean because of Irma.
CBN News reporter Gary Lane interviewed Operation Blessing president Bill Horan about how they’re preparing to help victims of the hurricane.
Florida Power & Light says it will be weeks, not days, before electricity is fully restored because of the damage being done by Irma.
Spokesman Rob Gould said Sunday that an estimated 3.4 million homes and businesses will lose power once the worst of Irma reaches the Florida mainland. He expects thousands of miles of poles and lines will need to be replaced, particularly on the Gulf coast.
Some residents sang “The Great I Am” as Irma approached.
This is incredible, some residents singing "The Great I Am" on a Miami Beach before #irma comes through
— Adam ن (@adambeamer) September 10, 2017
As Irma makes its way through the Florida region there’s a new concern: storm surge.
A storm surge is when waters from the ocean and nearby bodies of water are pushed onto dry land.
In Miami, there are reports of waist-deep water. Nearly 2 feet of water have flooded the streets in the Brickell area.
The Weather Channel’s Mike Seidel tweeted this video of a storm surge there.
— Mike Seidel (@mikeseidel) September 10, 2017
“It’s bad it’s nasty here. We’re not even getting the direct hit,” Senator Marco Rubio, R-FL, told Fox News.
As the storm worsened, Miami Beach government officials tweeted they could no longer respond.
Due to extreme sustained winds rescue teams are no longer able to respond. Stay inside and Stay safe until the storm has passed. #Irma
— City of Miami Beach (@MiamiBeachNews) September 10, 2017
The threat of storm surge exists for the Keys all the way up through Tampa.
Florida Governor Rick Scott warned of a storm surge of up to 8 feet for the Tampa area. Forecasters say some locations on the Florida mainland could get up to 15 feet of water.
“I don’t see prayer as a last resort, it should always be a first resort,” said Scott.
“Pray, pray for everybody in Florida,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”
The storm officially made landfall in the Florida Keys a little after 9 am. In addition to the storm surge of more than 10 feet there, the chain of islands is still being hit by extremely strong winds.
Meanwhile, President Trump has approved Disaster Declaration for Florida and Puerto Rico and made additional assistance available for the U.S. Virgin Islands.
A last minute shift west has Hurricane Irma heading towards the Tampa Bay and St. Pete area.
Authorities warned nearly seven million people in the Southeast to evacuate. That number included 6.4 million in Florida alone.
“We were ready to go help our friends on the east coast… we are about to get punched in the face,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told Fox News.
President Donald Trump is calling on everyone in the storm’s path to count their lives greater than their possessions and “get out of its way.”
Speaking at a Cabinet meeting at Camp David Saturday, Trump said that property can be replaced, but people can’t. He also said the U.S. is prepared for the storm and all of America grieves for those who have died.
The president tweeted a video with his full comments:
This is a storm of enormous destructive power, and I ask everyone in the storm’s path to heed ALL instructions from government officials. pic.twitter.com/nJfM2Sdme1
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 9, 2017
Vice President Mike Pence opened the meeting in prayer.
Irma ran along the northern coast of Cuba Saturday, downing power lines and trees and blocking roads.
Thousands of people in the Caribbean raced to find shelter. Twenty-four people lost their lives in the storm as it barrelled through that region.
Earlier, a White House official released a statement that President Trump is keeping abreast of developments.
“The President and his Cabinet, meeting at Camp David, continue to receive regular updates on Hurricanes Irma and Jose,” the official said. “FEMA is leading the Federal effort to coordinate support to the impacted States and U.S. Territories. The President and First Lady are keeping all the people impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in their thoughts and prayers and urge everyone to listen to and follow the safety instructions of local authorities.”
As Irma neared south Florida, Gov. Rick Scott was warning people to follow evacuation orders. More than 6 million people have been warned to leave their homes, and more than 160,000 people are taking refuge in emergency shelters.
Gov. Scott added that those who failed to leave the state Friday night would have to ride out the storm at their own risk.
“It’s going to be very difficult to survive this if you’re in the Keys,” he warned during a Saturday morning interview with The Weather Channel. “I’m begging you to get out.”
Taking his own advice, Scott and his family evacuated their beachside mansion along the Gulf Coast.
Hundreds of thousands of Floridians have fled the state, clogging its major highways, but the governor says traffic officials decided not to reverse the direction of southbound lanes because gas and supplies must still move south. Saturday afternoon, officials allowed motorists to use emergency lanes to speed up the pace.
Scott is stressing the powerful storm could be a historic disaster.
“Remember Hurricane Andrew is one of the worst storms in the history of Florida. This storm is much worse,” Scott said.
Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Brock Long has this advice for people in Irma’s path: “Get out” now!
Georgia’s Gov. Nathan Deal is urging more than half a million state coastal residents to evacuate before Irma hits.
Irma is the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.
When it was still packing 185-175 mile per hour winds, it devastated small northern Caribbean islands like Saint Martin and Barbuda.
Here’s what Irma did to St. Martin. This amazing footage from the storm shows residents trying to rescue people trapped in a flipped-over bus. It comes about halfway through:
Gaston Brown, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said the country has been decimated.
“It was the worst time in all my life. I would not like to see a hurricane like this again,” one island resident said.
“We were praying the whole time,” one island visitor said, standing next to her injured friend in the hospital.
In Puerto Rico, Irma left nearly a million people without power and it could be four to six months in some areas before its restored.
And here in the U.S., the National Weather Service warns that some “locations hit by Irma could be uninhabitable for weeks or months” due to powerful winds, and that “structural damage to buildings, with many washing away” is possible in some coastal areas.
Major preparations are underway along the East Coast. In addition to Florida, the governors of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina have declared states of emergency.
RESOURCE: Disaster Readiness Guide
Residents are boarding up homes, grabbing dwindling supplies of bottled water, and battling fuel shortages seeking to get out of harm’s way.
But Florida is the main state in Irma’s path where huge numbers of people are evacuating and getting ready for the monster storm.
And CBN’s Operation Blessing has been stocking up for its relief and humanitarian aid as well.
OB already has dozens of tractor trailer loads of water and food at its warehouse in Ocala, Florida, and has been in contact with Florida pastors they’ve worked with over the years as it prepares to help those who will need it in Irma’s aftermath.
Meanwhile, Operation Blessing continues to aid the flooded residents in Harvey’s aftermath in Texas.
Report via CBN News
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