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FORTY 'high risk' prisoners escaped on British Virgin Isles after Hurricane Irma as islanders now fight over the last scraps of food and evacuated tourists weep with relief that their hell is over

Florida picks up the pieces of Irma's devastation: 7.2Million left without power and at least 7 dead after hurricane beat a path across the state before being downgraded to a tropical storm40 'high risk' prisoners escaped on British Virgin Isles

  • Desperate residents on St Martin have been seen brawling over remaining scraps of food left on the island
  • The regional police chief said a gang of 600 'local delinquents' were responsible for large scale looting
  • Exhausted tourists pictured breaking down in tears as they prepare to board evacuation flights from island  
  • People trapped on the island have described the 'biblical-scale destruction' as relief efforts gather pace today
  • Islanders are taking matters into their own hands, arming themselves with machetes to defend themselves 
  • Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is to fly to the Caribbean to visit British territories devastated by Irma 
  • British Cabinet Briefing document suggests 40 'high risk' prisoners are on the loose in the British Virgin Isles 
  • Authorities confirmed 10 people had been killed on Cuba bringing the death toll to at least 34 in Caribbean

Up to 40 'high risk' prisoners are feared to be on the run on the British Virgin Islands after escaping during Hurricane Irma, a government document has revealed.

There have been widespread reports of looting on one of the islands, Tortola, after inmates broke out of a jail amid chaos during the 185mph storm.

Photos of a British Cabinet Briefing paper have now revealed that officials are attempting to 'secure the transfer of the prisoners' to the island of St Lucia.

It comes as pictures emerged of exhausted tourists being evacuated from the Dutch-French island of St Martin as part of a major international relief effort.

Starving residents on the island have resorted to fighting each other for food while tourists queued at the airport and wept with relief as they were being evacuated from the 'biblical-scale destruction'. Hundreds of holidaymakers are still trying to leave, with dozens lining up outside the Princess Juliana Airport, which was left in ruins in the storm.

There have been reports of people arming themselves with machetes to defend themselves on the island while one soldier said he was stopping attempted lootings every ten minutes. 

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is set to fly to the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla 'in the coming days' as part of a visit to British territories devastated by the storm.

Mass evacuations are gathering pace from islands hit by Hurricane Irma. Residents and tourists trapped on St Martin broke down in tears as they prepared to board planes to leave the island

Mass evacuations are gathering pace from islands hit by Hurricane Irma. Residents and tourists trapped on St Martin broke down in tears as they prepared to board planes to leave the island

A young woman breaks down in tears as she prepares to leave St Martin. People trapped on the island have described the destruction  there as 'biblical'

A young woman breaks down in tears as she prepares to leave St Martin. People trapped on the island have described the destruction  there as 'biblical'

Wasteland: Debris lies strewn across a beach as a group of people inspect the damage caused by Irma on the island of St Martin 

Wasteland: Debris lies strewn across a beach as a group of people inspect the damage caused by Irma on the island of St Martin 

Devastation: Pictures show the remains of a bulding destroyed in Grand-Case, on the French Caribbean island of St Martin

Devastation: Pictures show the remains of a bulding destroyed in Grand-Case, on the French Caribbean island of St Martin

Waiting game: Residents use umbrellas and bags to shelter from the sun as they queue up to collect supplies on the island of St Martin

Waiting game: Residents use umbrellas and bags to shelter from the sun as they queue up to collect supplies on the island of St Martin

Looting has also been reported in the British Virgin Islands and photos of a British cabinet document have emerged suggesting up to 40 'high risk' prisoners are on the loose after escaping during the hurricane

Looting has also been reported in the British Virgin Islands and photos of a British cabinet document have emerged suggesting up to 40 'high risk' prisoners are on the loose after escaping during the hurricane

Aftermath: Luxury yachts lie stacked up on top of each other in marinas on the island of St Martin in the wake of the hurricane

Aftermath: Luxury yachts lie stacked up on top of each other in marinas on the island of St Martin in the wake of the hurricane

Members of the New York Air National Guard help evacuees as they prepare to leave St. Maarten for the safety of San Juan, Puerto Rico

Members of the New York Air National Guard help evacuees as they prepare to leave St. Maarten for the safety of San Juan, Puerto Rico

Exhausted holidaymakers, carrying their suitcases on their laps, are pictured on a flight away from the hurricane-hit island of St Martin last night

Exhausted holidaymakers, carrying their suitcases on their laps, are pictured on a flight away from the hurricane-hit island of St Martin last night

French police are pictured chasing looters in St Martin amid reports a gang of 600 thieves are terrorising islanders

French police are pictured chasing looters in St Martin amid reports a gang of 600 thieves are terrorising islanders

Terrified tourists on the Dutch-French island of St Martin have described cowering in their hotel rooms amid reports up to 600 looters are running riot (pictured in a still taken from a video posted on Facebook)

Terrified tourists on the Dutch-French island of St Martin have described cowering in their hotel rooms amid reports up to 600 looters are running riot (pictured in a still taken from a video posted on Facebook)

Video playing bottom right...

One-year-old girl WEES live on This Morning's studio floor

 

French and Dutch police have sent extra police to St Martin to help contain looting on the island.

One resident, Jacques Charbonnier, said 'all the food is gone now' and revealed 'people are fighting in the streets for what is left', the Independent reports.

Another, 70-year-old Germania Perez, said: 'There's no food here. There's no water here.'

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Deadly eye of Irma makes second landfall in Florida on Marco Island as THREE MILLION are left without power, four people are killed and the Gulf Coast faces 10-15 FOOT storm surges Florida dealing with Hurricane Irma aftermath

  • Irma weakened to a tropical storm on Monday, as it continued to pummel northern Florida 
  • The storm is expected to move into Georgia later today, where Atlanta has been put on a tropical storm warning for the first time ever and schools are closed for the day 
  • More than 4,000 flights were cancelled on Monday, mostly out of Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa's airports  
  • About 7.2 million people are without power in the state and it could take up to a week for it to be restored
  • Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys early Sunday morning then pushed up the Gulf Coast
  • The National Hurricane Center said water levels in Naples rose 7ft in just 90 minutes with substantial flooding
  • 7 deaths reported in Florida so far but officials admit they do not have a definitive number of fatalities yet
  • The storm has toppled cranes, swallowed streets and ripped the roofs off homes  
  • Nearly seven million people had been told to leave their homes in mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders
  • More than 200,000 people waited in shelters statewide as Irma headed up the coast 
  • The storm has already claimed at least 25 lives across the Caribbean since it took hold earlier in the week 

The first Floridians are returning home today to survey the damage wreaked by Hurricane Irma.

The powerful hurricane made landfall Sunday morning in the Florida Keys as a category 4 storm and then made it's way up the Golf Coast - knocking out power to some 5.8million Floridians, swamping downtown Miami with storm surge and blowing the roofs off homes. 

More than 200,000 people waited in shelters statewide as Irma headed up the coast.

As of Monday morning, the storm was still pummeling northern Florida but had been downgraded to a tropical storm. Irma's maximum sustained winds were down to 65 mph as the storm was about 70 miles east of Tallahassee late Monday morning. It's moving north northwest at 17 mph.

Forecasters expect Irma's center to move into southwestern Georgia later Monday and then into Alabama Tuesday morning and eventually western Tennessee. 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.  

So far, the storm is believed to have caused six deaths - including two in the Florida Keys, which was under mandatory evacuation. 

But this morning, Florida Director of Emergency Management Bryan Koon said he could not confirm or deny reports of multiple deaths or extensive damage, admitting: 'I don't have any numbers on fatalities at this point.'  

A person walks through the flooded streets of a trailer park in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma on Monday in Key Largo, Florida

A person walks through the flooded streets of a trailer park in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma on Monday in Key Largo, Florida

Street flooding is prevalent on the Southbank of downtown as Hurricane Irma passes by in Jacksonville, Florida on Monday

Street flooding is prevalent on the Southbank of downtown as Hurricane Irma passes by in Jacksonville, Florida on Monday

Kelly McClenthen returns to see the flood damage to her home with her boyfriend Daniel Harrison in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Bonita Springs, Fla., Monday, Sept. 11, 2017

Kelly McClenthen returns to see the flood damage to her home with her boyfriend Daniel Harrison in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Bonita Springs, Fla., Monday, Sept. 11, 2017

Wrecked boats that have come ashore are pictured in Coconut Grove following Hurricane Irma in Miami, Florida, U.S., September 11, 2017

Wrecked boats that have come ashore are pictured in Coconut Grove following Hurricane Irma in Miami, Florida, U.S., September 11, 2017

Floodwaters surround a marina in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma on Monday in Key Largo, Florida 

Floodwaters surround a marina in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma on Monday in Key Largo, Florida 

A boat is seen washed ashore at the Dinner Key marina after hurricane Irma passed through the area on September 11, 2017 in Miami, Florida

A boat is seen washed ashore at the Dinner Key marina after hurricane Irma passed through the area on September 11, 2017 in Miami, Florida

Hurricane Irma will cross into Georgia on Monday, bringing heavy wind and rain to the state 

Hurricane Irma will cross into Georgia on Monday, bringing heavy wind and rain to the state 

A van remains in a sinkhole on Monday  in Winter Springs, Florida after Hurricane Irma passed through the state

A van remains in a sinkhole on Monday  in Winter Springs, Florida after Hurricane Irma passed through the state

People walk around branches and trees that were downed when hurricane Irma passed through Miami, Florida on Monday

Kelly McClenthen walks through her flooded neighborhood, as she returns to see the damage to her home in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Bonita Springs, Florida on Monday

Kelly McClenthen walks through her flooded neighborhood, as she returns to see the damage to her home in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Bonita Springs, Florida on Monday

A man walks by damage from Hurricane Irma at Sundance Marine in Palm Shores, Florida, Monday, September 11, 2017

A man walks by damage from Hurricane Irma at Sundance Marine in Palm Shores, Florida, Monday, September 11, 2017

Above, another view of downed trees in Miami, Florida on Monday  

Above, another view of downed trees in Miami, Florida on Monday  

A car sits in a flooded parking lot outside the Germain Arena, which was used as an evacuation shelter for Hurricane Irma, which passed through yesterday, in Estero, Florida on Monday

A car sits in a flooded parking lot outside the Germain Arena, which was used as an evacuation shelter for Hurricane Irma, which passed through yesterday, in Estero, Florida on Monday

Boats sit on the bottom in the north Florida panhandle community of Shell Point Beach as Hurricane Irma pulls the water out September 11, 2017 in Crawfordville, Florida

Boats sit on the bottom in the north Florida panhandle community of Shell Point Beach as Hurricane Irma pulls the water out September 11, 2017 in Crawfordville, Florida

Downed power lines are seen in Bonita Springs, Florida, northeast of Naples, on September 11, 2017 after Hurricane Irma hit Florida

Downed power lines are seen in Bonita Springs, Florida, northeast of Naples, on September 11, 2017 after Hurricane Irma hit Florida

People wade through a flooded neighborhood in Bonita Springs, Florida, northeast of Naples, on September 11, 2017, after Hurricane Irma hit Florida

People wade through a flooded neighborhood in Bonita Springs, Florida, northeast of Naples, on September 11, 2017, after Hurricane Irma hit Florida

Partially submerged boats caused by Hurricane Irma sit in the water in a marina in downtown Miami, Florida on Monday

Partially submerged boats caused by Hurricane Irma sit in the water in a marina in downtown Miami, Florida on Monday

A couple leave their flooded home the morning after Hurricane Irma swept through the area on September 11, 2017 in Fort Myers, Florida

A couple leave their flooded home the morning after Hurricane Irma swept through the area on September 11, 2017 in Fort Myers, Florida

A Florida Highway Patrol vehicle drives by part of a roof and ceiling torn off of a nearby home from the high winds from Hurricane Irma at an intersection on September 11, 2017 in Bowling Green, Florida

A Florida Highway Patrol vehicle drives by part of a roof and ceiling torn off of a nearby home from the high winds from Hurricane Irma at an intersection on September 11, 2017 in Bowling Green, Florida


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1.4Mill terrified Floridians and Georgians are ordered to abandon their homes as FEMA warns 'majority of people will have never experienced hurricane like this'

Another victim of the storm was claimed when his truck (pictured) was swept off the road and into a tree in Monroe County. He has not yet been named 
  • Three have died in two separate car crashes, while a fourth died of natural causes overnight in a shelter
  • Irma weakened to a Category 2 storm at about 5pm Sunday with winds of 110mph
  • Tornado warnings have been announced across Florida, particularly on the west side of the storm 
  • And two cranes - of two dozen in the city - have collapsed under intense wind pressure in Miami 
  • Forecasts correctly predicted Irma would make first landfall over Lower Florida Keys on Sunday morning 
  • It then made a second landfall on Marco Island near Naples at around 3:30pm on Sunday 
  • Around 6.3 million people have been told to leave their homes in mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders
  • The storm has already claimed at least 25 lives across the Caribbean since it took hold earlier in the week
  • President Donald Trump declared a major disaster in the state of Florida on Sunday 
  • Experts have warned that 'catastrophic' and 'life threatening' storm surges could reach up to 15ft  in Key West

Hurricane Irma is moving ashore in southwest Florida after making landfall for the second time on Marco Island close to Naples.

Irma weakened to a Category 2 storm at about 5pm Sunday as it hugged the coastline moving north through Fort Myers.

The National Hurricane Center said Irma's winds were at 110 mph, just below major hurricane status, as the center of the still dangerous and wide storm moved farther inland late Sunday afternoon. It was smacking Fort Myers and Naples after coming ashore in Marco Island at 3.35pm.

Areas of Naples are now suffering substantial flooding and swathes of the west coast - as well as lakes, bays and sounds nearby - are under 15ft storm surge warnings. The National Hurricane Center said water levels in Naples rose 7ft in just 90 minutes.

A wind gust of 142 mph was recorded at the Naples Municipal Airport as the storm kept its top sustained wind speed of 110 mph.

Irma should be moving directly over the Tampa Bay area around midnight. 

'Pray, pray for everybody in Florida,' Governor Rick Scott said on Fox News Sunday.

As Irma continued its unprecedented assault on the state, two of the four victims claimed in Florida were identified.

Hardee County Sheriff's deputy Julie Bridges, a mother of one, and Hardee Correctional Institute sergeant Joseph Ossman crashed and died on Sunday around 60 miles from Saratosa. 

Water levels are rising rapidly in Naples (above) from Hurricane Irma's storm surge with a reported a 7 foot rise of water in just 90 minutes. The storm kept its top sustained wind speed of 110 mph on Sunday afternoon

Water levels are rising rapidly in Naples (above) from Hurricane Irma's storm surge with a reported a 7 foot rise of water in just 90 minutes. The storm kept its top sustained wind speed of 110 mph on Sunday afternoon

Irma was originally predicted to move up the east coast of Florida, but veered off to the west and is now heading up towards the west side of the panhandle. It had been upgraded from Cat. 3 to Cat. 4 on Saturday, but went down to Cat. 3 again Sunday

A car sits abandoned in storm surge along North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard. Irma made initial landfall at 9:10am on the Florida Keys, which are now the subject of a massive relief effort. Four people have been confirmed dead in the disaster

Hurricane Irma brought strong winds when it struck Fort Myers (pictured above) on Sunday afternoon

High winds and flooded roads are seen on Brickell Avenue, Miami, as Irma sweeps through the coastal city on Sunday. The damage is expected to extend up into Georgia over the coming days

High winds and flooded roads are seen on Brickell Avenue, Miami, as Irma sweeps through the coastal city on Sunday. The damage is expected to extend up into Georgia over the coming days

Hardee Correctional Institute sergeant Joseph Ossman (pictured) and Hardee County Sheriff's deputy Julie Bridges died when their vehicles collided during Hurricane Irma.
It's not clear whether the weather influenced the smash. Bridges is pictured here

Hardee Correctional Institute sergeant Joseph Ossman (left) and Hardee County Sheriff's deputy Julie Bridges (right) died when their vehicles collided during Hurricane Irma. It's not clear whether the weather influenced the smash

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Massive storm surge floods apartment buildings along Miami canal

While the confirmed body count is currently just four, the suffering from Irma's onslaught is much wider, with more than three million losing power and swathes of Miami - where two cranes were toppled - left flooded.

The Keys, which is where Irma first made landfall, are now the subject of a huge airborne relief mission.

President Donald Trump declared a major disaster in the state of Florida on Sunday, making federal aid available to people affected by Hurricane Irma in nine counties already hit by the storm.

THE LIFE-THREATENING STORM SURGE EXPLAINED

A storm surge is not a wall of water or a tsunami.  Hurricane winds push water toward shore. 

It can happen quickly and far from a storm's center, inundating areas that don't typically flood.

A storm surge doesn't just come from the ocean. It can come from sounds, bays and lakes, sometimes wells inland.

Large hurricanes tend to create a greater storm surge over a broader area, and coastal features such as bays can act like funnels and back water up into rivers and canals. 

Forecasters say it kills more people than the strong winds.

The National Hurricane Center forecasts water levels up to 15 feet above ground in parts of the west coast, and elsewhere on Florida's shores. 

As the hurricane moves up the west coast, experts have warned that there will be a negative surge of three or more feet, as water is pulled out into the sea, or into the centers of lakes, bays or sounds.

That might look like the hurricane is subsiding - but it's just a prelude to the real surge, which will push huge amounts of water back towards the land.

A storm surge hit Naples at 4.35pm as the eye of the storm got closer to the city, with feet of water suddenly flowing onto streets. But that was a small pre-surge and not the full level.

That kind of flooding is a risk on both sides of the state, but is particularly dangerous on the west coast.

Previous hurricanes have seen dozens killed after people ran out onto beaches to pick up newly stranded fish, only to be caught as the deadly waves flow back onto the helpless crowds.

There are longer-term threats, too, from sewage and other toxins being caught in the surge back onto land.

'We're going to be inundated with unprecedented amounts of water,' Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said Sunday. 

'It's going to stress our storm water and sewer capacity. There's going to be overflows. There's no two ways around it.'

That in turn could lead to runoff being sent into Tampa Bay, which means dangers to public health as well as to structures.

Leakage from the radiation and toxins created by the state's phosphorus mining industry - the largest in the nation - as well as from the 51 Superfund sites.

Those are largely old chemical or oil storage facilities that have poisoned groundwater over decades, and are among the most toxic places in the nation, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Florida's Department of Environmental Protection said it would be testing groundwater as soon as it's safe to do so after the storm. EPA said it will also be on the ground after the storm. 

WHEN TO EXPECT THE WORST 

As of 3pm Sunday, Irma was expected to continue up the west coast of Florida, hitting various cities along the way, subjecting each one to the worst of Irma's power at different stages of the next day and a half.

These are the projected windspeeds at various locations across Florida.

By Sunday 4pm: Key West, Miami and Fort Myers with 75+mph winds; Tampa and Orlando with 40-50mph winds.

By Sunday 10pm: Key West at 40-50mph; Miami at 60-75mph; Fort Myers, Tampa and Orlando all at 75+mph.

By Monday 4am: Key West at 30-35mph; Miami at 40-50mph; Fort Myers, Tampa and Orlando all at 75+mph.

By Monday 10am: Key West and Miami at 30-35mph; Fort Myers, Tampa and Orlando all at 75+mph.

By Monday 4pm:  Key West at 25-30mph; Miami at 30-35mph; Fort Myers at 50-560mph;, Tampa and Orlando at 75+mph.

Storm surges have the highest threat of immediate death, as water that has been pushed out to sea - or to the center of lakes, sounds and bays - floods back in fast, drowning people who have gone onto newly exposed sea beds

Hurricane Warnings were in effect for almost the whole of Florida, with Tropical Storm Warnings up into Georgia and beyond. The extent of Irma's destruction cannot be fully predicted at this point

Heavy rainfall is predicted to continue falling throughout the week, even as Irma moves on, breaks up and dissipates

Hurricane Warnings were in effect for almost the whole of Florida, with Tropical Storm Warnings up into Georgia and beyond. The extent of Irma's destruction cannot be fully predicted at this point

As the nation's eyes turned to follow Irma up the west coast of Florida, the Keys began to take in the immensity of the damage done. 

Florida responded with the launch of a massive airborne relief mission by Monroe County Emergency Management, whose director, Martin Senterfitt, called the damage done to the Keys a 'humanitarian crisis.'

He promised disaster mortuary teams, as well as C-130 cargo planes, which United States Air Force special operations pilots are testing flights around the massive storm, the Miami Herald reported.

Also on the mission will be Air National Guard flights of more C-130s, backed up by squadrons of helicopters. They are expected to start arriving early Monday morning.

The first load will head to Florida Keys Marathon Airport. As it can handle about two C-130 planes at a time, the plan is to land two every two hours, keeping a steady flow of good.

'The help is on its way,' Senterfitt said on Sunday afternoon, adding: 'We're going to get more aid than we've ever seen in our lives.' 

Bridges was a mother of an eight-year-old boy (pictured). She had been going home to pick up supplies to help those affected by the storm when the collision occurred

Bridges was a mother of an eight-year-old boy (pictured). She had been going home to pick up supplies to help those affected by the storm when the collision occurred

Another victim of the storm was claimed when his truck (pictured) was swept off the road and into a tree in Monroe County. He has not yet been named 

Another victim of the storm was claimed when his truck (pictured) was swept off the road and into a tree in Monroe County. He has not yet been named 

A floundered boat is shown at the Haulover Marine Center at Haulover Park in North Miami Beach on Sunday. Hurricane Irma left behind flooding and devastation in the south as it continued northwards, making landfall again near Naples at 3.30pm 

A floundered boat is shown at the Haulover Marine Center at Haulover Park in North Miami Beach on Sunday. Hurricane Irma left behind flooding and devastation in the south as it continued northwards, making landfall again near Naples at 3.30pm 

Bridges, 42, 13-year veteran of the county force, had been collecting supplies to keep helping civilians when she collided with Ossman, 53, who had been going to work.

'She worked the shelter all night and was going home to retrieve some more items and then go back to the shelter,' Hardee County Sheriff Arnold Lanier told the Herald-Advocate.

The wreck was reported at 6:53am, having been found at the intersection of Old Crewsville Road and SR 66 in Zolfo Springs. No other vehicles or people were involved. 

The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating the incident, and has not yet ruled whether the winds and rain caused by Irma at the time of the crash directly influenced the accident.

Bridges was a mother of an eight-year-old boy and a member of the sheriff's Honor Guard. Ossman, meanwhile, had been working at the Hardee Correctional Institute for 21 years.

'We are heartbroken by this loss, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and fellow officers at this time,' Corrections Secretary Julie Jones told the Miami Herald

They were not the only people to die amid the deluge.

Another man was killed after tropical-storm-strength winds caused him to lose control of the truck he was driving through Monroe County, which contains Key West. He had been carrying a generator, local officials told ABC News.

And an elderly man died of natural causes while sheltering in a school in the city of Marathon on the Keys, Larry Kahn, an editor for FlKeysNews.com, said.

'He was staying in one of the classrooms,' Khan explained. 'Police came up, along with a couple of nurses who are here, actually, got everyone out of the room and sealed it off.'

Those deaths come after Irma claimed at least 25 lives in the Caribbean as it swept over several countries, destroying entire islands. 

On Sunday afternoon Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced that the confirmed death toll on the Caribbean island of St Maarten had increased to four. 

Miami's famed Ocean Drive was slammed by Hurricane Irma's winds and rain as it made landfall at around 9am Sunday, following hours of increasingly dangerous weather

Miami's famed Ocean Drive was slammed by Hurricane Irma's winds and rain as it made landfall at around 9am Sunday, following hours of increasingly dangerous weather

Irma tore down a construction crane atop a skyscraper high over Miami
The crane can also be seen here. Cranes are designed to withstand strong winds and twist like weather vanes to reduce resistance, but Irma was too much

Irma tore down a construction crane atop a skyscraper high over Miami (left and right). Cranes are designed to withstand strong winds and twist like weather vanes to reduce resistance, but Irma was too much

In this handout image, a satellite shows Hurricane Irma as it makes landfall on the Florida coast as a category 4 storm taken at 14:30 UTC on Sunday

In this handout image, a satellite shows Hurricane Irma as it makes landfall on the Florida coast as a category 4 storm taken at 14:30 UTC on Sunday

The rough waters where the Miami River meets Biscayne Bay in Miami shows the full effects of Hurricane Irma. Downtown Miami was completely flooded, with waves rolling down the roads

The rough waters where the Miami River meets Biscayne Bay in Miami shows the full effects of Hurricane Irma. Downtown Miami was completely flooded, with waves rolling down the roads

The few motorists remaining on the roads pass empty fuel pumps at a closed gas station ahead of Hurricane Irma in Tampa, Florida, as the weather there worsens

The few motorists remaining on the roads pass empty fuel pumps at a closed gas station ahead of Hurricane Irma in Tampa, Florida, as the weather there worsens

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'Wake up and pay attention!': 'Nuclear' Hurricane Irma barrels toward Florida prompting gas shortages and threats to waterfront reactors and now GEORGIA has mandatory evacuations Florida residents wait in traffic to flee Hurricane Irma

  • Hurricane Irma is expected to make landfall in southern Florida by early Sunday morning 
  • Miami is expected to bear the brunt of Irma, a Category 5 storm clocking 150mph winds 
  • An estimated  1.4 million people are under evacuation in Florida and Georgia 
  • Florida Gov. Rick Scott said residents under evacuation in southern coastal areas need to leave by midnight
  • Since evacuation orders were issued, there's been heavy traffic on all northbound highways
  • The storm has the potential to do $125billion worth of damage when it strikes Miami - and possibly much more
  • Irma has caused devastation in the Caribbean, killing at least 24 and leveling entire islands
  • Extensive damage has been reported on Barbuda and St Martin, with over 90 per cent of buildings wrecked
  • The storm is currently battering the northern coast of Cuba 

Hurricane Irma is once again forecast to hit the Florida Keys as a Category 5 storm, as more than a million people have fled its path and abandoned their homes.

Meteorologists expect the powerful hurricane to hit the Sunshine State between 5am and 7am ET on Sunday. 

'Obviously Hurricane Irma continues to be a threat that is going to devastate the United States,' Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said at a press conference Friday morning. 'We're going to have a couple rough days.'

The storm was first downgraded from a Category 5 to a Category 4 earlier on Friday morning, but as of 5pm ET on Friday, it is predicted to hit the U.S. as a Category 5. This will only be the fourth time ever a Category 5 has hit US mainland.

As of 6.30pm ET Friday, the hurricane is moving west at 12 mph and located 345 miles southeast of Miami.

Government officials along with the National Hurricane Center have cautioned that Irma is 'extremely dangerous' with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph. That's strong enough to bring down power poles, uproot trees and rip the roofs off of homes. 

In preparation for what is predicted to be the most powerful hurricane to hit the United States in years, an estimated 1.4million people have been given mandatory evacuation orders in both Florida and Georgia.      

The above map shows Hurricane Irma's current projected track towards the U.S. and up the state of Florida this weekend

The above map shows Hurricane Irma's current projected track towards the U.S. and up the state of Florida this weekend

Boarded up buildings are seen in preparation of Hurricane Irma during a mandatory evacuation in Miami Beach, Florida on Friday 

Boarded up buildings are seen in preparation of Hurricane Irma during a mandatory evacuation in Miami Beach, Florida on Friday 

People use their cellphones near boarded up stores in preparation of Hurricane Irma in Miami Beach, Florida on Friday 

People use their cellphones near boarded up stores in preparation of Hurricane Irma in Miami Beach, Florida on Friday 

Hundreds of people gather in an emergency shelter at the Miami-Dade County Fair Expo Center in Miami, Florida on Friday 

Hundreds of people gather in an emergency shelter at the Miami-Dade County Fair Expo Center in Miami, Florida on Friday 

A message to Hurricane Irma is written on the facade of a boarded restaurant on Friday in Miami Beach, Florida

A message to Hurricane Irma is written on the facade of a boarded restaurant on Friday in Miami Beach, Florida

An empty beach is seen before the arrival of hurricane Irma in Miami, Florida on Friday 

An empty beach is seen before the arrival of hurricane Irma in Miami, Florida on Friday 

Traffic along Interstate 75 north, rear, crawls toward Atlanta as drivers flee Hurricane Irma on Friday in Griffin, Georgia

Traffic along Interstate 75 north, rear, crawls toward Atlanta as drivers flee Hurricane Irma on Friday in Griffin, Georgia

The Worth Avenue shopping district is shown after a mandatory evacuation order went into effect on the barrier island of Palm Beach, Florida on Friday

The Worth Avenue shopping district is shown after a mandatory evacuation order went into effect on the barrier island of Palm Beach, Florida on Friday

In this geocolor image GOES-16 satellite image taken on Friday, Hurricane Irma, center, approaches Cuba and Florida, with Hurricane Katia, left, in the Gulf of Mexico, and Hurricane Jose, right, in the Atlantic Ocean

In this geocolor image GOES-16 satellite image taken on Friday, Hurricane Irma, center, approaches Cuba and Florida, with Hurricane Katia, left, in the Gulf of Mexico, and Hurricane Jose, right, in the Atlantic Ocean

Hurricane Irma is driving toward Florida passing the eastern end of Cuba as Hurricane Katia (L) is also seen in this NASA GOES satellite image taken at 1pm ET

Hurricane Irma is driving toward Florida passing the eastern end of Cuba as Hurricane Katia (L) is also seen in this NASA GOES satellite image taken at 1pm ET

A photo of Hurricane Irma on Thursday, taken by NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik on the International Space Station.

A photo of Hurricane Irma on Thursday, taken by NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik on the International Space Station.

Apocalyptic scenes are playing out across the Sunshine State, as more than a million people flee Hurricane Irma's wrath.    

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is telling residents in the southern coastal evacuation areas to leave by midnight.

'If you are planning to leave and do not leave tonight, you will have to ride out this extremely dangerous storm at your own risk,' Scott said at a Friday press conference. 

He also urged residents on the Gulf Coast to take evacuation orders seriously since Irma's path has moved slightly west.

'You are not going to survive this if it happens,' Scott said. 'Now is the time to evacuate.'

The forecasts show that dangerous storm surges could begin as early as Saturday night before the storm even hits Florida.  

It's then expected to track directly up the state, crossing the state line into Georgia early next week.    

Hurricane Irma killed at least 24 people in the Caribbean and left thousands homeless as it devastated small islands in its path.  And it's already proved deadly in the U.S. A man installing hurricane shutters on his Florida home fell off a ladder and died on Thursday.  

The National Hurricane Center issued hurricane warnings for the Keys and parts of South Florida and Lake Okeechobee. It added a storm surge warning and extended watch areas wrapping around much of the peninsula. 

For Irma, forecasters predicted a storm surge of 6 to 12 feet above ground level along Florida's southwest coast and in the Keys. As much as a foot of rain could fall across the state, with isolated spots receiving 20 inches. 

Scott has been pleading with his citizens all week to evacuate if they are ordered to, and to prepare - no matter the direction of the storm.

CURRENT EVACUATION ORDERS FOR THE U.S. 

FLORIDA

 Mandatory evacuations 

Monroe County: This mandatory order stands for the entire Florida Keys. About 31,000 people were evacuated as of 6pm Wednesday 

Miami-Dade County: Mandatory evacuations for all of Zone A, all of Zone B, and portions of Zone C. 

Broward County: Voluntary evacuations of mobile homes and low-lying areas; mandatory evacuation of all areas east of U.S. 1 including barrier islands beginning Thursday

Brevard County: Mandatory evacuations for Zone A, Merritt Island, barrier islands, and some low-lying mainland areas along Indian River Lagoon beginning Friday

Lake Okeechobee: Florida officials want residents to evacuate the area directly south of Lake Okeechobee. A voluntary evacuation was issued for the cities of South Bay, Lake Harbor, Pahokee, Moore Haven, Clewiston, Belle Glade and Canal Point. Mandatory evacuations for these cities will be put into effect Saturday morning. 

Collier County: Mandatory evacuations for Goodland, Everglades City, Chokoloskee, and all mobile homes beginning on Friday

Glades County: Residents in zone A must evacuate by noon Friday. Everyone living in an RV park, mobile home or a building constructed before 1992 must also evacuate.

Flagler County: Mandatory evacuations for nursing homes, all varieties of assisted living facilities, and community residential group homes within coastal and Intracoastal areas and voluntary evacuation for zones A, B, C, F beginning on Thursday; mandatory for Zones A,B,C,F, and substandard housing beginning on Saturday

Lee County: Mandatory evacuations for barrier islands – Bonita Beach, Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel, Captiva, and Pine Island beginning Friday morning

Martin County: Mandatory for barrier islands, manufactured homes, and low-lying areas beginning Saturday  

Palm Beach County: Mandatory evacuations for Zone A and B, voluntary for Zone C

Pinellas County: Mandatory evacuations all mobile homes and Zone A

Indian River County: Mandatory evacuations for low lying areas go into effect on Saturday 

St. Johns County: Mandatory evacuation go into effect Saturday morning for Zones A and B

Duval County: Residents in Zones A and B and those living in mobile homes and low-lying homes are instructed to evacuate immediately 

Nassau County: Mandatory evacations go into effect at 6pm Friday for people who live in zones A, C and F 

Citrus County: Mandatory evacuation for residents west of U.S. Highway 19, those living one and a half miles east of U.S. 19, Crystal River residents, residents living in low-lying areas, and residents living in mobile homes, manufactured homes and all unsafe structures. 

Hernando County: Mandatory evacuation for coastal zones A and B and mobile homes countywide. 

Hendry County: Mandatory evaciation for Clewiston, Hookers Point, Harlem, Flaghole, Montura Ranch Estates, and communities within the Mid-County MSBU which incudes Ladeca, Pioneer Plantation and Leon-Dennis Subdivision. resiednts in no-slab build homes, mobile homes trailers and RVs are under voluntary evacuation. 

Sarasota County: People living in evacuation Zone A are to leave between 2pm Friday and 8pm Saturday. 

Pasco County: Mandatory evacuation for residents who live west of U.S. 19, north of Fox Hollow, west of Little Rd and special needs residents throughout the county. 

Voluntary evacuations: 

St. Lucie County: Voluntary evacuations 

DeSoto County: Voluntary evacuation for people in low-lying/flood prine areas and residents living in mobile homes and RV parks 

Charlotte County: Voluntary evacuations on Don Pedro Island, Knight Island, Little Gasparilla Island, Gasparilla Island, Manasota Key and those living in mobile homes 

Okeechobee County: Voluntary evacuations of low-lying areas prone to flooding 

Volusia County: Voluntary evacuations of residents in beachside, low-lying areas and in RV, mobile or manufactured homes.

Polk County: Voluntary evacuation for residents in manufactured homes and flood-prone areas  

Hillsborough County: Voluntary evacuations for residents in Zone A who are registered for special needs shelters staring 8am Friday. 

Manatee County: Voluntary evacuations for Zone A 

Highlands county: Voluntary evacuation for residents who live in low-lying areas and manufactured mobile homes. 

GEORGIA 

Georgia ordered the evacuation of the state's coastal areas. It applies to all areas east of Interstate 95, including the city of Savannah.  

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Evacuations issued for Miami as Irma heads for Florida

  • Parts of the Georgia coast, Miami and the entirety of the Florida Keys are now under mandatory evacuation 
  • Georgia's Gov. Nathan Deal ordered the mandatory evacuation of his state's coastal areas - including the city of Savannah - on Thursday 
  • Evacuations went into effect in the Florida Keys on Wednesday and Miami on Thursday 
  • Hurricane Irma, a powerful Category 5 storm, is expected to his south Florida Sunday morning 
  • It could then turn northwest to hit Georgia and the Carolinas   
  • Locals in Florida have cleaned out grocery stores of key necessities and supplies ahead of the big storm
  • Florida Governor Rick Scott said gas and more supplies are on the way, after stores and service stations across the state started reporting shortages

Georgia's governor has ordered a mandatory evacuation starting on Saturday from the state's Atlantic coast ahead of Hurricane Irma. That includes the city of Savannah, home to nearly 150,000 people. 

Gov. Nathan Deal issued the evacuation Thursday for all areas east of Interstate 95, all of Chatham County and some areas west of the interstate. He also expanded a state of emergency to 30 counties.

It comes after mandatory evacuations were called in the Florida Keys and parts of Miami.  

Deal's order authorizes about 5,000 Georgia National Guard members to be on active duty to help people respond and recover.

Georgia hasn't been hit by a hurricane with winds Category 3 or higher since 1898.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, also declared a state of emergency. A major strike there would be the first in nearly 28 years.

The head of FEMA said on Thursday that Hurricane Irma will have a 'truly devastating' impact when it slams into southern coastal areas of the United States this weekend.  

Florida Governor Rick Scott has ordered the emergency evacuation of Miami's coastal zones as Hurricane Irma approaches the United States mainland. Pictured is traffic out of Florida creeping along northbound Interstate 75 after a vehicle accident in Lake Park, Georgia

Florida Governor Rick Scott has ordered the emergency evacuation of Miami's coastal zones as Hurricane Irma approaches the United States mainland. Pictured is traffic out of Florida creeping along northbound Interstate 75 after a vehicle accident in Lake Park, Georgia

Grocery store shelves appear empty at the Winn Dixie on September 7, 2017 in Tavernier, Florida on Thursday 

Grocery store shelves appear empty at the Winn Dixie on September 7, 2017 in Tavernier, Florida on Thursday 

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