Tampa Bay Times: Hurricane Irma: Nearly 60 percent of Florida without power as storm moves north
Hurricane Irma is weakening faster than expected this morning as it makes its way northwest through Central Florida after packing less of a punch than some forecasters had feared.
But conditions were still stormy through much of the Orlando area Monday morning, and officials urged people to stay inside. In Orange County, a curfew remains in effect until 6 p.m.
The National Weather Service still reported winds of up to 43 miles per hour and gusts of up to 69 miles per hour near downtown Orlando.
At 5 a.m., Irma had 75 mph sustained winds — just 2 miles shy of becoming a tropical storm — and was moving north-northwest at 18 mph. The once mighty Category 5 storm was about 35 miles east of Cedar Key, the National Hurricane Center in Miami reported.
7:20 a.m.: Inescapable Irma, the hurricane that for a week tormented the entirety of the Florida peninsula unlike any storm that came before it, will finally find its way out of the state Monday.
She will leave behind destruction from Key West to probably Tallahassee. And yet the storm will also be remembered for what it wasn’t: In the end, Irma was not the feared Category 5 catastrophe she could have been, though the extent of her damage is still unknown. The dual-coast storm has already been blamed for five deaths.
Overnight, the Category 2 storm pushed into western Florida further south than expected, sparing vulnerable Tampa Bay from the worst of the surging Gulf of Mexico waters. By 2 a.m., it was a Category 1 inland storm moving northeast toward Orlando from Tampa. By 5 a.m., it was about to be downgraded to a tropical storm.
President Donald Trump approved a major disaster declaration on Sunday.
This declaration authorizes federal funding to flow directly to Floridians impacted by Hurricane Irma and reimburses local communities and the state government to aid in response and recovery from Hurricane Irma.
The Major Disaster Declaration approved by President Trump authorizes:
– 100 percent federal reimbursement for 30 days in all counties for emergency protective measures, such as emergency operation center costs, evacuation costs, sheltering costs, and other costs associated with emergency response. After the 30 days, the federal government will reimburse 75 percent of these costs. This includes both local and state expenses;