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Associated Press

Donald Trump: U.S. a ‘little bit lucky’ Irma veered from original course

President Donald Trump says the U.S. may have gotten a “little bit lucky” after Hurricane Irma veered from its original course and headed west along Florida’s coast.

He says Irma may not have been quite as destructive as a result, but that things will play out over the next several hours.

Trump addressed reporters Sunday after returning to the White House from Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland where he spent the weekend monitoring the storm.

Trump says Irma will cost “a lot of money” but he isn’t thinking about that right now.

He says “right now, we’re worried about lives, not cost.”

Trump says he’ll be having additional meetings about coordination for the storm response.

FEMA sees trailers only as last resort after Harvey, Irma

In a 2017 hurricane season that has already seen two monster storms, Harvey and Irma, manufactured homes are turning out to be just a small fraction of the federal government’s plan to deal with displaced people, with only 1,700 trailers available.

Where exactly the Federal Emergency Management Agency plans to send those trailers, Texas or Florida, is not yet clear. But what is clear is they will only be used as a last resort.

That’s in stark contrast to 2005, when 144,000 FEMA trailers became symbols of the troubled federal response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita after lawsuits accused some of those units of being riddled with high levels of cancer-causing formaldehyde.

FEMA’s new model for monster storms honed in the wake of 2012’s Superstorm Sandy puts the emphasis on paying for hotels and apartments for temporary housing. That, along with money for super-fast fixes that allow people to move back into their own homes as quickly as possible, even before all the repairs are done.

“Our role is to provide sort of the bridge to get through the disaster,” FEMA spokesman Kurt Pickering said Saturday. “We are not intended to make people or households back the way they were before, to make them whole. We’re designed to get them through the emergency.”

A joint state and federal housing task force in Austin is working with FEMA on the best way to allocate resources. But those affected are far more likely to get government support by way of a few weeks at a hotel, a couple of months of rent in an apartment or a check for repairs, than a FEMA trailer.

“To put a mobile home or travel trailer out there is a significant expense – it really is the option of last resort,” said Mark Miscak, an emergency management consultant and former director in FEMA’s recovery division.

That’s the way it’s playing out so far after Harvey, which damaged or destroyed more than 210,000 homes across southeast Texas, mostly from the effects of floodwaters from an epic downpour of nearly 52 inches.

FEMA is picking up the tab for hotel rooms spread across Texas for about 60,000 people affected by the storm for up to two weeks. The agency is also paying a couple months’ rent at the government’s fair market rate for 27,000 additional households.

So who might get a trailer?

It might be people like the Ochoa family of hard-hit southwest Houston, with parents and two grown siblings still sleeping in their heavily damaged, moldering home, its skeletal walls recently stripped of soggy drywall.

Claudia Ochoa, 21, said FEMA offered to put her family up in motels but they were located in cities four to five hours away and they couldn’t afford to abandon their jobs.

“If we had some money, we would leave, but we don’t,” she said as her 5-year-old son played on a couch salvaged from the storm. FEMA sent a $500 check for food and cleaning supplies, Ochoa said, but the family is still hoping for a more permanent solution.

The Ochoas’ 58-year-old neighbor, Salvador Cortez, is also sleeping in his musty, flood-gutted home. Cortez said he’s received no money or housing options from FEMA yet, despite repeated phone calls. But he didn’t want to continue imposing on his son, where his wife has been staying with four other people.

Going into the current hurricane season, FEMA had 1,700 trailers on hand in staging areas in Alabama and Maryland. It has put out bids for another 4,500, but officials could not say when they would be ready to meet needs arising from Harvey, Irma and potentially future storms.

FEMA spokesman Bob Howard stressed the units are of much higher quality and do not have the formaldehyde problems of the trailers of the past, which resulted in multimillion-dollar lawsuit payouts to survivors who lived in them for years after the storms.

The new trailers, which cost FEMA between $40,000 and $60,000 each, range in size from one bedroom to three bedrooms, and are equipped with sprinklers and other features designed for longer-term habitation.

“They’re built to house survivors much longer than previous units used after disasters,” FEMA said in a release last year announcing its new fleet, “an important consideration because rebuilding can take months or even years.”

Still, FEMA stressed in a January 2017 release, units “are not intended to be a permanent housing option for flood survivors.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Irma brings fears of surge, sewers and toxins to Tampa area

As Irma marches up Florida’s Gulf Coast toward Tampa Bay, residents fear what the storm will do to an area that hasn’t taken a direct hit from a major hurricane since 1921.

From punishing winds to catastrophic storm surge, the area is bracing for devastation. Vulnerable structures range from the towering Sunshine Skyway Bridge to toxic waste sites from the state’s phosphorous mining industry.

A 2013 World Bank study that ranked cities according to their vulnerability to major storms placed Tampa at number seven — among all cities in the world.

“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.”

Irma was a Category 3 storm Sunday afternoon. Its center was on track to reach the Tampa Bay area by late Sunday or early Monday.

The four-county area, with approximately 3 million residents, encompasses two of Florida’s largest cities: Tampa and St. Petersburg. The area is known for its sugar-sand beaches, the Busch Gardens theme park and the Salvador Dali Museum.

Among the chief concerns is storm surge. A report released in June by CoreLogic, a global property information firm, said nearly 455,000 Tampa Bay homes could be damaged by hurricane storm surges, the most in any major metro area except Miami and New York City. And rebuilding all those homes could cost $80.6 billion, the report said.

In 2016, the risk-management consultancy Karen Clark & Co. said Tampa Bay is the nation’s most vulnerable metro area to storm surge flooding caused by a once-in-century hurricane. The Boston-based firm said Tampa Bay acts as a “large funnel” for surges, forcing water into narrow channels and bayous with nowhere else to go.

Officials in Tampa Bay studied a scenario eerily similar to Irma in a 2010 report that looked at what would happen if a Category 5 hurricane hit the area. To be sure, Irma is not that powerful, but it is the strongest storm to hit the area in decades.

The 2010 report anticipated wind damage from a hypothetical Category 5 storm would destroy nearly half a million homes and businesses if it hit the coast near Tampa Bay. And while Irma differs from the storm modeled by the researchers, their report was an ominous foreshadowing.

Storm surges can overwhelm area cities’ wastewater treatment plants, sending runoff into Tampa Bay. When Hurricane Hermine brushed past in September 2016, several municipalities released partially treated sewage into Tampa Bay because treatment plants ran out of capacity.

Toxic waste sites in the Tampa Bay region also pose risks to public health if they are flooded or damaged.

Florida has the nation’s largest phosphorus mining industry, and it’s based in the area. A byproduct of the industry is 27 hill-sized piles of waste containing low levels of radiation and other toxins, according to data from the U.S. Geological Survey. Some of the piles are 500 feet tall.

Last year, a huge sinkhole opened up beneath one of these stacks, sending millions of gallons of contaminated mine wastewater into the Floridan Aquifer, a drinking water source for millions. The hole remained open for months until earlier this year when the owner, Mosaic, finally managed to create a preliminary seal.

But the repairs are not finished and could be vulnerable to the storm.

Mosaic spokeswoman Callie Neslund said in an email on Sunday the company has been working to complete repairs. She said a well meant to recover pollutants is working, along with back-up generators.

“Our efforts to reinforce and strengthen the (sinkhole) seal are proving effective,” Neslund said.

The region is also home to more than half of Florida’s 51 Superfund sites – areas designated as some of the most toxic places in the nation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Many are old chemical or oil storage facilities that left behind a legacy of dangerous contamination in soil and groundwater. State and federal government agencies have been working to clean them up for decades.

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.

EPA spokeswoman Amy Graham said in an email that “these facilities will be properly assessed to ensure there are no potential adverse impacts to human health and the environment.”

Irma makes landfall — again — this time on Marco Island

Hurricane Irma has made landfall on Marco Island, Florida, as a Category 3 hurricane.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Irma’s powerful eye roared ashore at Marco Island just south of Naples with 115-mph (185-kph) winds, for a second U.S. landfall at 3:35 p.m. Sunday.

Category 3 storms have winds from 111 to 129 mph, but 130-mph (21-kph) wind gust was recently reported by the Marco Island Police Department.

Irma’s second U.S. landfall was tied for the 21st strongest landfall in the U.S. based on central pressure. Irma’s first U.S. landfall in the Florida Keys was tied for 7th.

Second tower crane in Miami collapses because of Irma

Miami City Manager Daniel Alfonso says a second tower crane has collapsed into a building under construction in the city’s downtown area. Alfonso told The Associated Press that the crane collapsed in a large development with multiple towers being built by Grand Paraiso.

Another crane collapsed earlier Sunday onto a high-rise building that’s under construction in a bayfront area filled with hotels and high-rise condo and office buildings, near AmericanAirlines Arena. No injuries have been reported.

High winds are impeding Miami authorities’ ability to reach the cranes, and authorities are urging people to avoid the areas.

Alfonso says the approximately two-dozen other cranes in the city are still upright and built to withstand significant wind gusts.

The tower cranes working on construction sites throughout the city were a concern ahead of Irma. Moving the massive equipment, weighing up to 30,000 pounds (13,600 kilograms), is a slow process that would have taken about two weeks, according to city officials.

Toxic sites throughout Florida likely in path of Irma

Dozens of personnel from the Environmental Protection Agency worked to secure some of the nation’s most contaminated toxic waste sites as Hurricane Irma bore down on Florida. The agency said its employees evacuated personnel, secured equipment and safeguarded hazardous materials in anticipation of storm surges and heavy rains.

The Associated Press surveyed six of the 54 Superfund sites in Florida before Irma’s arrival, all around Miami in low-lying, flood-prone areas. There was no apparent work going on at the sites AP visited this past week. The EPA said that if there was no activity, a site should be considered secured but would be closely monitored. The sites were in various stages of federally directed, long-term cleanup efforts.

At the Miami-Dade Emergency Operations Center on Saturday, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said the EPA workers he’s spoken with seem “generally positive” about the prospects for toxic sites remaining secure in the coming hurricane. But “they can’t guarantee it 100 percent,” he told AP.

“EPA feels they got a handle on it.” he said. “They think that the risk is real but certainly not as severe as some other places. Not to minimize it — it’s something to think about.”

AP was not able to fully evaluate each site’s readiness for the hurricane.

“If any site in the path of the storm is found to pose an immediate threat to nearby populations, EPA will immediately alert and work with state and local officials and inform the public — and then take any appropriate steps to address the threat,” EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said Friday. “So far no sites have risen to this level that we are aware of.”

A risk analysis by EPA concluded in 2012 that flooding at such sites in South Florida could pose a risk to public health by spreading contaminated soil and groundwater. Flooding could disturb dangerous pollutants and wash it onto nearby property or contaminate groundwater, including personal wells, said Elizabeth “Betsy” Southerland, who retired last month as director of science and technology in EPA’s Office of Water after 30 years at the agency.

“The agency needs to quickly respond with careful monitoring after the storm,” said Southerland.

A recent analysis for the Government Accountability Office by two researchers at American University found that a storm surge in South Florida of just 1 to 4 feet could inundate the half-dozen sites visited by AP in recent days. Irma was predicted to push in a wall of water up to 12 feet high.

Of particular concern was the one-acre Miami Drum Services site. It is located over a drinking-water aquifer in a heavily industrial area of Doral, in west Miami-Dade County. The site was once home to more than 5,000 drums of various chemicals, some of which were dumped onsite after the metal containers were washed with a caustic cleaning solution. That solution, mixed with the chemical residues in the drums, leaked into the Biscayne Aquifer, a drinking water source.

The EPA’s community involvement coordinator for the site, Ronald Tolliver in Atlanta, told AP he was not sure what the agency was doing to prepare the site or contact residents whose drinking water could be affected by serious flooding from Irma. Bowman said Tolliver was a new employee and may not have been familiar with the EPA’s hurricane procedures for Superfund sites.

At the Homestead Air Reserve Base Superfund site south of Miami, it would take only about a foot of storm surge to swamp the nearly 2,000-acre Superfund site. Numerous apartments and a shopping center with a supermarket are nearby.

The EPA needs to do a better job helping people who live near Superfund sites stay informed with accurate information, said Stephen Sweeney, a former graduate fellow in EPA’s office of policy and one of the American University researchers who conducted the Superfund flooding study.

“These residents need to be aware of their surroundings, and what could be in their water and the floodwater,” said Sweeney, now a private consultant. “There needs to be some sort of public communication. Either mass distribution of information or evacuating residents — it’s up to the agency to make that call.”

At the Anodyne site in North Miami Beach on Friday, the AP found three sealed steel drums labeled as being filled with “IDW” soil and water in the open, weed-covered field behind a building. IDW is the designation for “investigation derived waste.” The drums were labeled, “Do not disturb.” Bowman said the barrels were low-risk to human health.

A worker from a nearby building, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation, said he saw workers putting soil and water into the drums. Soil and groundwater at the former industrial site was contaminated with a brew of toxic chemicals, including pesticides, solvents and heavy metals.

After AP inquired about the drums, the EPA said Saturday it dispatched workers to Anodyne to remove the containers. They had contained “drill cutting and purge water” produced during the installation of a new monitoring well the prior week, the agency said.

The EPA has made significant efforts over the last week to publicize its response to flooding at Superfund sites in Texas and allay concerns about similar sites in Florida. That followed an Aug. 26 report by AP that at least seven Superfund sites in the Houston region had flooded during Hurricane Harvey. AP journalists on the scene in Texas surveyed the sites by boat, vehicle and on foot.

Hours after AP’s story last week, the EPA said it had reviewed aerial imagery confirming that 13 of 41 Superfund sites in areas affected by Harvey had flooded and were experiencing possible damage due to the storm. The EPA also confirmed that its own personnel had not yet visited the Houston-area sites.

Since then, EPA has been issuing daily updates about its efforts. On Monday, the agency organized a media tour of one of the Houston sites highlighted in AP’s reporting, though AP was not notified about the press event and was not able to attend. After AP informed the EPA in Washington that its reporters had been surveying Superfund sites in South Florida, the agency warned in a press release that “unauthorized entry at any Superfund site, either prior to or following the storm, is prohibited as these sites can be extremely dangerous and can pose significant threats to human health.”

Following his appointment by Trump, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has repeatedly said that cleaning up Superfund sites is among his top policy priorities. He appointed a task force to study the issue quickly, adopting 42 recommendations and saying he wanted to develop a “top-10 list” of the most dangerous sites.

Pruitt, who has questioned the severity of consequences from global warming, has been largely silent on the threat posed to Superfund sites by rising seas and more powerful storms.

A nationwide climate change adaptation assessment conducted by EPA under the Obama administration in 2012 determined that more than 500 Superfund sites are located in flood zones. Nearly 50 are in coastal areas that could also be vulnerable to sea level rise and storm surge, including several located in Florida.

“There’s a sharp contrast between the recommendations left behind for the Pruitt EPA and what his task force examined,” said Mathy Stanislaus, who served as EPA’s assistant administrator for solid waste and emergency response under President Obama. “They completely omitted any consideration of increasing vulnerability from climate change.”

The EPA declined to make Pruitt available for an interview with the AP. But asked about the issue by CNN, he said now is not the time to debate the impacts of global warming.

“To have any kind of focus on the cause and effect of the storm; versus helping people, or actually facing the effect of the storm, is misplaced,” Pruitt said Thursday. “What we need to focus on is access to clean water, addressing these areas of superfund activities that may cause an attack on water, these issues of access to fuel…. Those are things so important to citizens of Florida right now.”

Irma now taking aim at Tampa Bay as Floridians hustle to leave

With the window closing fast for anyone wanting to escape, Irma hurtled toward Florida with 125 mph winds Saturday on a shifting course that threatened the first direct hit on the Tampa area from a major hurricane in nearly a century.

That represented a significant turn in the forecast, which for days had made it look instead as if the Miami metropolitan area of 6 million people was going to get slammed head-on by the Big One.

“You don’t want to play with this thing,” Sen. Marco Rubio warned during a visit to the Miami-Dade Emergency Operations Center. “People will die from this.”

Forecasters predicted Irma’s center would blow ashore Sunday in the perilously low-lying Florida Keys, then hit southwestern Florida, move up the state’s Gulf Coast and plow into the Tampa Bay area.

The storm center itself is expected to miss Miami, but the metro area will still get pounded with life-threatening hurricane winds, National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said.

Tampa has not been struck by a major hurricane since 1921, when its population was about 10,000, Feltgen said. Now the area has around 3 million people and encompasses two of Florida’s biggest cities: Tampa and St. Petersburg.

As the storm closed in on the Sunshine State, it pounded Cuba and left more than 20 people dead in its wake across the Caribbean after ravaging such resort islands as St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Antigua.

Irma weakened slightly in the morning but was expected to pick up strength again before slamming Florida.

On Saturday morning, the hurricane’s outer bands blew into South Florida as residents scrambled to leave. Damaging winds were moving into areas including Key Biscayne and Coral Gables, and gusts up to 56 mph (90 kph) were reported off Miami.

In one of the biggest evacuations ever ordered in the U.S., about 6.3 million people in Florida – more than one-quarter of the state’s population – were warned to leave, and 540,000 were directed to clear out from the Georgia coast. Authorities opened hundreds of shelters for people who did not leave. Hotels as far away as Atlanta filled up with evacuees.

“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,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Friday. He urged everybody in the Keys to get out.

In St. Petersburg, people woke to the news that the storm had turned.

Nadier Yazoub, a 30-year-old firefighter, planned to board up his home and get his pregnant wife to safety. “I didn’t think we would get hit like that. I thought it would stick to the east coast,” he said.

Major tourist attractions, including the Disney World parks, Universal Studios and Sea World, all prepared to close Saturday. The Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports shut down, and those in Orlando and Tampa planned to do the same later in the day.

With winds that peaked at 185 mph (300 kph), Irma was once the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the open Atlantic. But given its mammoth size and strength and its projected course, it could still prove one of the most devastating hurricanes ever to hit Florida and could inflict damage on a scale not seen here in 25 years.

It could also test the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s ability to handle two crises at the same time. FEMA is still dealing with aftermath of catastrophic Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area.

Ray Scarborough and girlfriend Leah Etmanczyk left their home in Big Pine Key and fled north with her parents and three big dogs to stay with relatives in Orlando. Scarborough was 12 when Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992 and remembers lying on the floor in a hallway as the storm nearly ripped the roof off his house.

“They said this one is going to be bigger than Andrew. When they told me that, that’s all I needed to hear,” said Scarborough, now a 37-year-old boat captain. “That one tore everything apart.”

Gas shortages and gridlock plagued the evacuations, turning normally simple trips into tests of will. Parts of interstates 75 and 95 north were bumper-to-bumper, while very few cars drove in the southbound lanes.

In suburban Palm Beach County on the state’s Atlantic coast, the streets were nearly deserted early Saturday as the first squall from Irma dropped a brief shower over the area. Gas stations ran out of fuel, grocery stores were closed and only a few fast-food restaurants were open.

Sherry Whiteside, a Palm Beach Gardens mental health counselor, had come to her neighborhood Publix because she was craving a cherry pie. The store was closed. She held out hope for the state.

“I am praying that it will somehow disintegrate or – what’s that word? – dissipate,” she said.

Andrew razed Miami’s suburbs with winds topping 165 mph (265 kph), damaging or blowing apart over 125,000 homes. Almost all mobile homes in its path were obliterated. The damage in Florida totaled $26 billion and at least 40 people.

Magnitude of Irma drives massive evacuation from Florida

Hurricane Irma’s relentless advance on Florida narrowed the window for residents to get to safety, with the latest forecasts shifting landfall southwest of the heavily populated Miami metro area.

The enormous storm regained Category 5 status late Friday as winds hit 160 mph (260 kph). Forecasters expect the storm to be near the Florida Keys on Sunday morning and approach the state’s southwest coast by that afternoon.

In one of the country’s largest evacuations, about 5.6 million people in Florida – more than one-quarter of the state’s population – were ordered to leave, and another 540,000 were ordered out on the Georgia coast. Authorities opened hundreds of shelters for people who did not leave. Hotels as far away as Atlanta filled up with evacuees.

“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,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said.

The governor urged everybody in the Keys, where forecasters expect the storm to hit first, to get out.

Ray Scarborough and girlfriend Leah Etmanczyk left their home in Big Pine Key and fled north with her parents and three big dogs to stay with relatives in Orlando. Scarborough was 12 when Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992 and remembers lying on the floor in a hallway as the storm nearly ripped the roof off his house.

“They said this one is going to be bigger than Andrew. When they told me that, that’s all I needed to hear,” said Scarborough, now a 37-year-old boat captain. “That one tore everything apart.”

Their house in the Keys, up on 6-foot (1.8-meter) stilts, has flooded before.

“This isn’t out first rodeo. Andrew was a wicked storm. Wilma was a wicked storm. This one is going to be worse. Then we’ll go home and rebuild, like we always do,” said Etmanczyk, a 29-year-old teacher.

Forecasters adjusted the storm’s potential track more toward the west coast of Florida, away from the Miami metropolitan area of 6 million people, meaning “a less costly, a less deadly storm,” University of Miami researcher Brian McNoldy said.

Nevertheless, forecasters warned that its hurricane-force winds were so wide they could reach from coast to coast, testing the nation’s third-largest state, which has undergone rapid development and more stringent hurricane-proof building codes in the last decade or so.

“This is a storm that will kill you if you don’t get out of the way,” National Hurricane Center meteorologist Dennis Feltgen said. “Everybody’s going to feel this one.”

Irma killed at least 20 people in the Caribbean and left thousands homeless as it devastated small resort islands known for their warm, turquoise water.

In Florida, gas shortages and gridlock plagued the evacuations, turning normally simple trips into tests of will. Parts of interstates 75 and 95 north were bumper-to-bumper, while very few cars drove in the southbound lanes.

“We’re getting out of this state,” said Manny Zuniga, who left his home in Miami at midnight Thursday to avoid the gridlock. “Irma is going to take all of Florida.”

Despite driving overnight, he still took 12 hours to reach Orlando – a trip that normally takes four hours. From there, he and his wife, two children, two dogs and a ferret were headed to Arkansas.

Andrew razed Miami’s suburbs with winds topping 165 mph (265 kph), damaging or blowing apart over 125,000 homes. Almost all mobile homes in its path were obliterated. The damage totaled $26 billion in Florida’s most-populous areas. At least 40 people were killed in Florida.

Police in the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Davie said a 57-year-old man who had been hired to install hurricane shutters Thursday morning died after falling about 15 feet (5 meters) from a ladder and hitting his head on a pool deck. The man’s name wasn’t immediately released.

With winds that peaked at 185 mph (300 kph), Irma was once the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the open Atlantic.

Nowhere will be safe: Can scary words save public from Irma?

Catastrophic, life-threatening, extremely dangerous. Scary? Forecasters hope so.

The National Weather Service are using as fearful words as they can, on purpose, to warn people about Hurricane Irma and shock them into action, just as they did last month for Hurricane Harvey.

“Words like catastrophic, get out, life-threatening, hopefully it will sink in,” said National Hurricane Center spokesman and meteorologist Dennis Feltgen.

The weather office on the Florida Keys may have done him one better.

“(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)THIS IS AS REAL AS IT GETS(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)NOWHERE IN THE FLORIDA KEYS WILL BE SAFE(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)YOU STILL HAVE TIME TO EVACUATE(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)” The National Weather Service’s Florida Keys office tweeted Friday.

A year ago, the National Weather Service announced it would stop screaming in all capital letters unless in case of emergency. This is an emergency.

The hurricane center used all capitals some places and in other places just kept hinting at death if you don’t pay attention.

“Irma is expected to make landfall in Florida as an extremely dangerous major hurricane, and will bring life-threatening wind impacts to much of the state regardless of the exact track of the center,” a Friday posting wrote. “This is a life-threatening situation. Everyone in these areas should take all actions to protect life and property from rising water and follow evacuation instructions from local officials.”

During Harvey, Feltgen joked he was running out of words to convey how dangerous the storm was. He said the situation was the same with Irma on Friday.

“Do I need to bring a thesaurus here and see what I can do with it,” Feltgen said. “This is a storm that will kill you if you don’t get out of the way.”

Irma chases retirees from Florida paradise; return uncertain

For hundreds of Northern retirees, paradise looks like the pastel-colored mobile homes just off A1A, the highway that runs the length of Florida’s eastern coast.

The Atlantic Ocean is just across the road, and the beach is flat and wide and firm – perfect for morning strolls and so different from their former homes in places like New York, New Jersey and Wisconsin. In the evenings, the residents sometimes drive their golf carts to the bank of the Halifax River to chat, laugh and sip cocktails. Read more

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