TAMPA, Fla. — The Latest on Hurricane Irma (all times local):
The Environmental Protection Agency announced the decision in a letter issued Monday as Hurricane Irma blew through the state. The agency said the so-called No Action Assurance granted through Sept. 26 will provide Florida utility generators needed flexibility to maintain and restore electricity supplies.
The assurance letter will allow utilities to operate outside restrictions mandated by their permits, including potentially using dirtier fuels, running for longer hours or electively bypassing pollution-control equipment.
The rest of the outages are scattered across South Carolina as the winds from Irma spread across the state.
The storm is 50 miles south-southeast of Albany, Georgia, and is moving at 17 mph.
Forecasters say the flooding from the ocean about a mile) inland to Calhoun Street is becoming life-threatening. No injuries have been reported yet.
Authorities say with the rain it could be several hours before the water recedes.
Several tornado warnings have also been issued around Charleston, but no major damage has been reported.
Edisto Beach Mayor Jane Darby says a family of four was rescued from their car about noon Monday from a curve near the beach’s pier. She says the family had “decided all of a sudden” they needed to leave.
Darby says Edisto Beach is “under water,” with power lines and trees down. He says the town has suspended all emergency calls because “it’s too dangerous.”
As the remnants of Hurricane Irma move out of Florida, work is underway to resupply the state with gasoline. Hurricane Irma caused a huge spike in gasoline demand as residents evacuated, topped of their tanks, and/or filled gas cans to power generators. This led to outages at various gas stations throughout Florida and neighboring states, and it could take a week for supply conditions to return to normal.
Suppliers face an uphill battle in the coming days, trying to keep gas stations supplied, as Florida evacuees return home in large numbers after the storm. Gas stations not located along major highways should have an easier time keeping supplies, as residents are no longer “panic pumping”, since the storm is no longer a threat. Refueling gas stations along major evacuation routes will be a top priority, as it was before the storm. Motorists are still likely to find long lines, which could lead to temporary outages, due to the surge in demand.
“Florida evacuees should plan their return home very carefully,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA - The Auto Club Group. “First, ensure you know there are no major hazards at home or along your travel route. Expect congestion on the roadways, as the first few days after the storm will be the busiest. Pay close attention to traffic reports. Ensure you have a full tank of gas before you hit the road. Do not let your fuel gauge fall below a quarter tank before you start looking for a place to refuel. Bring a gas can in case you run out of fuel. It is not safe to drive with a full gas can inside an enclosed vehicle.”
An update from Monroe County describes “an astounding recovery effort” taking place in the Florida Keys.
Officials said the National Guard has arrived in the island chain, and state transportation officials have cleared six of 42 bridges as safe for travel. However, roads remain closed because of debris, and fuel is still a concern. There is no water, power or cell service in the Keys.
The Alabama Emergency Management Agency said strong winds and gusts up to 50 mph were expected through early Tuesday.
Hotels across Alabama also filled up with evacuees from Florida.
Dozens of streets near the water in Charleston were flooded and water levels at the gauge downtown were 9.4 feet at high tide around 12:30 p.m. Monday.
That is nearly at the same level as Hurricane Matthew last October.
Forecasters say the ocean may rise a little more, but they don’t expect a surge anywhere near the 12.5 feet recorded when Hurricane Hugo came ashore just north of Charleston in 1989.
Street flooding isn’t unusual in Charleston, which also sees flooding during Nor’easters and other storms.
It was one of the few in the area that had power by noon Monday.
The store’s doors and windows had been smashed during the storm by would-be looters trying unsuccessfully to punch through the safety glass. Some people had already parked their cars at the station’s pumps in case a tanker arrived to fill its empty storage tanks, while the customers inside were grabbing cold drinks, snacks and cigarettes.
Eric Truppy, a truck driver who had moved to the area 10 days ago from New Jersey, was carrying bags of cereal and protein drinks to his car. He said Irma’s impact on the Palm Beach area was nothing compared to what happened in New Jersey after 2012’s Hurricane Sandy.
“I didn’t think it was that bad,” Truppy said. “Sandy was worse, both for flooding and wind.”
Eric Silagy, the CEO of Florida Power & Light, said Irma caused the most widespread damage in the company’s history. It affected all 35 counties in the utility’s territory which is most of the state’s Atlantic coast and the Gulf coast south of Tampa. The most extensive damage was likely in the Naples area, but a full assessment was ongoing. He said 19,500 electric workers have been deployed in the restoration effort.
Still, he said, it will take days for many people to be restored and, in some cases where the damage was extensive, weeks.
Chip Clayton was driving the roads Monday as Irma’s winds and rainfall lashed Tybee Island, home to more than 3,000 people east of Savannah. Clayton said at least three homes had parts of their roofs or porches torn away and some roads were flooded. Ocean waters had begun washing away chunks of the protective dunes along the beach.
But Clayton said “for the most part, everything’s fine. … We thought it would be a lot worse.”
Chatham County emergency management director Dennis Jones, whose area includes Savannah and Tybee Island, said Monday that Irma’s impacts should ease up by Monday evening.
Kelly McClenthen and boyfriend Daniel Harrison put on waders to enter her neighborhood in Bonita Springs after Irma, and they needed them.
About 5 feet of river water stood under her home, which is on stilts. The main living area was fine, she said, but everything on the ground level was destroyed. She said her washer and dryer were floating in her utility room.
The same area flooded during a storm about two weeks ago, Harrison said, and that cleanup was still a work in progress. Now they’ll start over, but Harrison said they’ll get through it.
Jacksonville, Florida, authorities are telling residents near the St. Johns river to leave quickly as floodwaters rise.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office warned people in evacuation zones A and B along the St. Johns River to “Get out NOW.”
They say river is at historic flood levels and likely to get worse at high tide around 2 p.m.
On its Facebook page, the sheriff’s office told those who need help evacuating to “put a white flag in front of your house. A t-shirt, anything white.”
Rescue teams were ready to deploy.
A line formed outside the store before its planned 10:30 a.m. opening. The delay in opening, officials said, was because of the time needed to get enough workers in place to run the store.
But when a manager came out and said there was no ice and no bottled water, 19 people standing in line left.
Rick Freedman and his wife rode the storm out the island where Hurricane Irma made its second landfall Sunday afternoon as a Category 3 storm. They were uninjured, but he said the damage around them was striking.
He and his wife spent Sunday in a neighbor’s house with sturdy concrete block construction, and that house suffered little damage. He said his own wood-frame house on stilts appears to have little if any interior damage, but the storm ripped off an exterior stairway to the front door and blew off some roof shingles.
At the storm’s height he described “tremendously, tremendously powerful winds.”
northern Florida and southern Georgia should keep getting soaked, with rain totals eventually accumulating to 8 to 15 inches. Isolated parts of central Georgia, eastern Alabama and southern South Carolina may get up to 10 inches of rain.
Glynn County emergency officials had no immediate reports of tornado damage. They said in news release Monday that residents who didn’t evacuate need to shelter in place. They said causeways linking St. Simons Island and Sea Island to the mainland are closed because of flooding, and other roads are flooded, as well.
Gov. Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency for all of Georgia. Irma’s center was forecast to cross the Georgia-Florida line Monday afternoon but Tropical Storm winds were extending more than 400 miles.
The National Weather Service said the threat of storm surge had decreased Monday along Georgia’s 100 miles of coast, but flooding rains could still cause swollen rivers, streams and creeks to overflow.
Georgia Power said more than 125,000 customers were without powers across Georgia’s six coastal counties.
Hilton Head Island said on Twitter that it suspended emergency operations at 9 a.m. Monday until the winds and storm surge subside. They say they will only go on calls if a supervisor allows them because conditions are too dangerous.
Similar storm surge and winds gusts are possible up to coast to Charleston too.
Actress Kristen Bell says she is “singing in a hurricane” while riding out Irma in Florida.
The “Frozen” star is in Orlando filming a movie and staying at a hotel at the Walt Disney World resort. She stopped by an Orlando middle school that was serving as a shelter and belted out songs from “Frozen.”
Back at the hotel, Bell posted pictures on Instagram of her singing with one guest and dining with a group of seniors.
Bell also helped out the parents of “Frozen” co-star Josh Gad by securing them a room at the hotel.
Bell tells Sacramento, Calif., station KMAX-TV — where her father is news director — the experience is her version of one of her favorite movies, “Singin’ in the Rain.”
John Ward, the emergency operations manager of Clay County, says crews have pulled 46 people from flooded homes by early Monday and an undetermined number are still stranded as the area’s creeks and ponds are getting record flooding.
Ward says between 400 and 500 homes received severe flood damage but there have been no serious injuries or deaths.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport spokesman Andrew Gobeil says the airport will still be operational Monday and will monitor storm conditions.
Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority spokesman Erik Burton says both systems will be closed for Monday. He says officials will continue to coordinate with state and local officials along with emergency personnel to determine MARTA’s service schedule for Tuesday.
Jacobs said approximately 300,000 residents in Orlando are without power. She also said 60 percent of the fire stations are operating on backup generators and dispatchers received 1,381 calls between Sunday at midnight and 5:45 a.m. Monday morning.
Residents are being asked to minimize usage such as flushing toilets, bathing, along with washing dishes and laundry.
Irma is causing record-setting flooding in Jacksonville, Florida, as it moves over the state Monday on its way to southern Georgia.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott says there’s damage across the state caused by Hurricane Irma and it’s still too dangerous for residents to go outside or return from evacuation.
Scott said Monday on Fox News that he’s concerned about flooding now unfolding in Jacksonville and the amount of damage in the Florida Keys. The governor will be flying out of Mobile, Alabama, on a U.S. Coast Guard plane down to the Keys where he plans to inspect the extent of the damage there.
News outlets report Woodstock police say 3-month-old Riley Hunt of Port St. Lucie, Florida, was struck by an SUV driven by a 17-year-old girl Saturday night and was later pronounced dead. DeKalb County police say an 11-year-old boy who was also traveling from Florida to Georgia was hit and killed by a car early Monday in Stone Mountain.
The identity of the boy hasn’t been released, and the cause of the crash is currently unknown.
The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office says Hunt’s mother, 28-year-old Kaitlyn Hunt, and 61-year-old Kathy Deming were also hit and are listed in critical condition. The incident remains under investigation. No charges had been filed.
Irma has weakened to a Tropical Storm as it moves over Florida toward southern Georgia.
Irma is centered about 105 miles north-northwest of Tampa, Florida, and is moving north-northwest near 18 mph.
Trees and power lines were down across town and floods cut off roads to a neighborhood.
As the sun rose in Orlando, many tried to go outside to survey the damage, but authorities warn that conditions remain dangerous and ask that people to abide by the curfew that lasts throughout most of the day.
The storm surge could reach 6 feet, especially from late morning to mid-afternoon. Up to 6 inches of rain is also possible.
The EU has already been involved in the emergency relief effort, and Stylianides said the bloc stands ready to provide longer-term assistance as well. He called it “our moral duty to help those in need whose lives and homes are being destroyed or severely threatened.”
Rain already is falling in parts of the state, including metro Atlanta, early Monday.
Buckhorn did say there are a lot of downed power lines and debris.
He said Tampa’s officials have vehicles positioned “to be sure that when that surge comes in we can keep people out of the streets.”
He said he expected power to be out for some sections of Tampa for at least a couple more days.
On Sunday night, Miami police took two people into custody and detained two others.
Deputy Police Chief Luis Cabrera told the Miami Herald the officers went to the Shops at Midtown on Sunday afternoon as the winds of Hurricane Irma were at their strongest in South Florida. Cabrera says a group in a white truck hit multiple locations. Police have also received additional reports of looting in the city.
Cabrera didn’t have specific details about the looting incidents.
Opposition politicians have compared Britain’s response unfavorably to that of France, which has sent more than 1,000 troops, police and emergency workers to St. Martin and St. Barts.
Britain has dispatched a navy ship and nearly 500 troops, including medics and engineers.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Monday that Britain had responded strongly to an “unprecedented catastrophe.” He says the government will soon increase the 32 million pounds ($42 million) it’s pledged to the relief effort.
Lakeland police said in a Facebook post that officers rescued the family of four early Monday as water reached the children’s car seats. No one was injured and police were able to get the family back to their home.
“When you become a police officer you hope to make a difference in the lives of others,” the Facebook post said. “Tonight, there is no doubt these officers made a difference.”
Lakeland is between Tampa and Orlando, off of Interstate 4.
A Florida sheriff’s sergeant and a paramedic were trapped in a sheriff’s vehicle when a live power pole fell on the cruiser as they were returning from dropping off an elderly patient as Hurricane Irma moved over the state.
Polk County spokesman Kevin Watler said in a news release that Sgt. Chris Lynn and Polk County Fire Rescue paramedic James Tanner Schaill were trapped for about two hours late Sunday.
The Orange County Emergency Operations Center said early Monday that the fire department and the National Guard are going door-to-door using boats to ferry families to safety. No injuries have been reported. The rescued families are being taken a shelter for safety.
A few miles away, 30 others had to be evacuated when a 60-foot sinkhole opened up under an apartment building. No injuries were reported in that incident.
By Monday morning, Irma had weakened to a Category 1 hurricane with winds near 85 mph. Additional weakening is forecast and Irma is expected to become a Tropical Storm over northern Florida or southern Georgia later in the day.
A team of 59 urban search and rescue experts is flying Monday to the Dutch territory that’s home to some 40,000 people, where 70 percent of homes were badly damaged last week by a direct hit from the Category 5 storm. Four people were killed and dozens injured.
The Dutch government also is sending extra troops to maintain order following widespread looting and robberies. The government says there are already nearly 400 extra troops in St. Maarten and that number will rise to some 550 over the next two days.
Dutch King Willem-Alexander is expected to visit the island Monday to show his support for local residents and the emergency services working to restore infrastructure and begin the process of reconstruction.
Irma weakened to a Category 1 storm as the massive hurricane zeroed in on the Tampa Bay region early Monday after hammering much of Florida with roof-ripping winds, gushing floodwaters and widespread power outages.
As of 2 a.m., the storm was centered about 25 miles northeast of Tampa and moving north-northwest near 15 mph.
Irma continues its slog north along Florida’s western coast having blazed a path of unknown destruction. With communication cut to some of the Florida Keys, where Irma made landfall Sunday, and rough conditions persisting across the peninsula, many are holding their breath for what daylight might reveal.
Source : http://staugustine.com/news/2017-09-11/hurricane-irma-latest-electric-utilities-get-two-week-pollution-waiver