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1 week 6 days 10 hours ago Sunday, September 10 2017 Sep 10, 2017 September 10, 2017 11:36 AM September 10, 2017 in News
Source: Associated Press
Image: Anglins Fishing Pier September 10, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, via SF Gate
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The latest on Hurricane Irma. All times are in EST. 
6 p.m.
  
President Donald Trump has declared a major disaster in the state of Florida, making federal aid available to people affected by Hurricane Irma in nine counties already hit by the storm.
  
The federal help includes temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans for uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover in the counties of Charlotte, Collier, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Pinellas, and Sarasota.
  
Federal funding also is available to governments and non-profit organizations for emergencies in all 67 Florida counties. For the first 30 days, that money will cover 100 percent of the costs of some emergency responses.
  
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5:15 p.m.
  
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.
  
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5:15 p.m.
  
Hurricane Irma has weakened to a Category 2 storm, technically losing its major hurricane status, after making landfall in southwestern Florida. It is over land but hugging the coast as it moves north.
  
The National Hurricane Center said Irma's winds were at 110 mph (177 kph), just below major hurricane status, as the center of the still dangerous and wide storm moved farther inland. It was 5 miles (8 kilometers) north of Naples late Sunday afternoon. It came ashore on Marco Island at 3:35 p.m.
  
The hurricane center says "although weakening is forecast, Irma is expected to remain a hurricane at least through Monday morning."
  
The hurricane center says the eye of Irma should hug Florida's west coast through Monday morning and then push more inland over northern Florida and southwestern Georgia on Monday afternoon. The forecast puts the storm generally over the populated Tampa-St. Petersburg region a couple hours after midnight into Monday morning.
  
Jeff Masters is meteorology director of the private Weather Underground. He says the fact that the storm approached the Tampa region from over land and from the south could slightly reduce the expected storm surge, although he says it will still be dangerous.
  
Irma is producing deluges of 2 to 4 inches (5 to 13 centimeters) of rain an hour, which can cause flash flooding.
  
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5:15 p.m.
  
The storm surge near Cudjoe Key may be flooding the nearby Florida Key Deer Refuge, home to fewer than 1,000 of the endangered Key deer.
  
The unique subspecies of white-tailed deer about 3 feet (1 meter) tall at the shoulder, the size of a large dog, but wildlife officials were not immediately concerned that the herd had been lost to floodwaters.
  
Dan Clark is refuge manager for the Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges Complex. He says the deer are "excellent swimmers."
  
Clark evacuated his staff Wednesday, and he spoke with The Associated Press by phone from Pinellas County.
  
He says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff planned to return as soon as weather permitted to begin assessing how the deer and other endangered species fared throughout the narrow, low-lying island chain.
  
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5:15 p.m.
  
Police in Florida have arrested nine people who were caught on TV cameras looting sneakers and other goods from a sporting goods store and a pawn shop during Hurricane Irma.
  
Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Rick Maglione said the group was arrested Sunday as the storm roared across South Florida. Maglione called the idea of stealing sneakers during a hurricane "a fairly bad life choice."
  
Local TV images showed the alleged looters running in and out of a store through a broken window carrying boxes of sneakers.
  
It wasn't immediately clear what charges those arrested would face. Their identities also were not immediately released.
  
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5:15 p.m.
  
South Florida Water Management District chief engineer John Mitnik says it will probably be 7 p.m. Sunday before the storm surge in Miami completely subsides. He said the district is prepared for the storm surge expected on the Gulf coast and will have crews out repairing canals and drainage equipment as soon as it is safe.
  
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5:15 p.m.
  
Wildlife officials say Florida residents and visitors should stay away from sea turtle nests and refrain from any attempts to save them from Hurricane Irma.
  
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says in a news release that the public must not interfere with any sea turtle eggs, even if they think they're helping.
  
Officials say sea turtles have a nesting strategy that accommodates natural storm events, with each female depositing several nests throughout the season. No storm season is a total loss for Florida's sea turtles. Even in 2004, when Florida sustained direct hits from several hurricanes, officials say 42 percent of state's loggerhead nests hatched, well within the normal range.
  
Anyone who sees exposed turtle eggs or nests should contact wildlife officials.
  
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5:15 p.m.
  
Officials are warning boaters to stay away from the Florida Keys in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
  
Monroe County spokeswoman Cammy Clark said in an email Sunday evening that nearshore waters are filled with navigation hazards like debris, sunken boats, loose boats, buoys and markers.
  
Residents with boats already in the Keys should avoid driving them in the nearshore waters.
  
Hurricane Irma made landfall Sunday morning in Cudjoe Key.
  
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4:30 p.m.
  
The Marco Island police department is warning people who didn't evacuate to get to higher floors in their buildings.
  
The department issued the warning in a tweet on Sunday just as Hurricane Irma made landfall on the island.
  
Forecasts have called for life-threatening storm surge of up to 15 feet (4.5 meters) along the coast.
  
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4:30 p.m.
  
The University of Miami will not reopen either its main campus in Coral Gables or its Marine campus before Sept. 18 while it assesses the damage caused by Hurricane Irma.
  
The school says it is "proactively planning the recovery process." Numerous out-of-state students went back home last week to wait out the storm and it remains unclear when they will even be able to travel back to South Florida.
  
Miami's annual football rivalry game with Florida State has already been pushed back to Oct. 7. It had been scheduled for Sept. 16 in Tallahassee, the state capital that is also in Irma's projected path.
  
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4:30 p.m.
  
Electric car maker Tesla says it has temporarily increased the battery capacity of some of its cars to help drivers escaping Hurricane Irma.
  
The electric car maker said the battery boost was applied to Model S and X cars in the Southeast. Some drivers only buy 60 or 70 kilowatt hours of battery capacity, but a software change will give them access to 75 kilowatt hours of battery life until Saturday. Depending on the model, that could let drivers travel about 40 more miles before they would need to recharge their cars.
  
Tesla said it made the change after a customer asked the company for help evacuating. The company said it's possible it will make similar changes in response to similar events in the future.
  
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3:45 p.m.
  
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.
  
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3:30 p.m.
  
More than 2.1 million customers have lost power in Florida with Hurricane Irma striking the state.
  
Florida Power & Light reported the numbers Sunday afternoon. The utility, which services much of south Florida, says more than 845,000 of those customers are in Miami-Dade County.
  
Duke Energy, the dominant utility in the northern half of Florida, has about 13,000 outages with the outer bands of Irma sweeping across the region.
  
The power companies say they have extra crews on hand to try to restore power - when it becomes safe to do so.
  
FPL spokesman Rob Gould says an estimated 3.4 million homes and businesses will lose power once the worst of Irma reaches the Florida mainland.
  
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3:30 p.m.
  
Hurricane Irma is affecting the House of Representative's work schedule in Washington.
  
A notice from the House majority leader's office says the House now doesn't plan to take any votes Monday because of "the large number of absences" as a result of the storm.
  
The first votes of the week are expected Tuesday evening.
  
The House leadership will keep tabs on the situation and announce updates as necessary.
  
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3:15 p.m.
  
The eye of Hurricane Irma is nearing Naples, Florida, and continues to cause destruction over a wide swath of South Florida.
  
The National Hurricane Center said Irma had winds of 120 mph (195 kilometers) and was centered 20 miles (30 kilometers) south of Naples on Sunday afternoon. It was moving north at 12 mph (19 kilometers per hour). At that rate, the center of the storm should come ashore sometime between 4 and 5 p.m.
  
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3:30 p.m.
  
Hurricane Irma has pushed water out of a bay in Tampa, but forecasters are telling people not to venture out there, because it's going to return with a potentially deadly vengeance.
  
On Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa, approximately 100 people were walking Sunday afternoon on what was Old Tampa Bay - a body of water near downtown. Hurricane Irma's winds and low tide have pushed the water unusually far from its normal position. Some people are venturing as far as 200 yards (180 meters) out to get to the water's new edge. The water is normally about 4 to 5 feet (1 to 1.5 meters) deep and reaches a seawall.
  
The U.S. Hurricane Center has sent out an urgent alert warning of a "life-threatening storm surge inundation of 10 to 15 feet (3 to 5 meters) above ground level" and telling people to "MOVE AWAY FROM THE WATER!"
  
The waters retracted because the leading wind bands of Irma whipped the coastal water more out to sea. But once the eye passes and the wind reverses, the water will rush back in.
  
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3:30 p.m. Hurricane Irma is affecting the House of Representative's work schedule in Washington.
  
A notice from the House majority leader's office says the House now doesn't plan to take any votes Monday because of "the large number of absences" as a result of the storm.
  
The first votes of the week are expected Tuesday evening.
  
The House leadership will keep tabs on the situaton and announce updates as necessary.
  
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3:15 p.m.
  
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. Officials said no one was injured as the result of either crane's collapse.
  
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.
Florida Power & Light says it will be weeks, not days, before electricity is fully restored because of the damage being done by Hurricane Irma.
  
Spokesman Rob Gould said Sunday that an estimated 3.4 million homes and businesses will lose power once the worst of Irma reaches the Florida mainland. He expects thousands of miles (kilometers) of poles and lines will need to be replaced, particularly on the Gulf coast. As of Sunday afternoon, about 1.5 million customers were without power.
  
He said 17,000 restoration workers from as far away as California and Massachusetts are already stationed around the state, but it will take time to rebuild the system.
  
The utility covers much of the state, including most cities on the Atlantic coast and the Gulf coast south of Tampa.  It does not cover Tampa and St. Petersburg, two major cities in Irma's forecast path.
  
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1:30 p.m.
  
At least 25 people in one Florida county have been arrested for violating a curfew imposed as Hurricane Irma approached the state.
  
Palm Beach County authorities say the arrests were made after a 3 p.m. Saturday curfew was imposed. The misdemeanor charge can carry a fine of up to $500 and potentially 60 days in jail.
  
Officials announced the curfew as a safety measure and to prevent looting and other crimes. They say some of those arrested could face other charges, such as drug possession or drunken driving.
  
The curfew will be lifted after a storm damage assessment is done.
  
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1:30 p.m.
  
A meteorologist calculates that Hurricane Irma will dump about 10 trillion gallons (38 trillion liters) of rain on Florida over a day-and-a-half time period. That's about 500,000 gallons (1.9 trillion liters) for every Florida resident.
  
Private meteorologist Ryan Maue of WeatherBell Analytics based his calculations on weather service forecasts. He also calculates it will dump 6 trillion gallons (23 trillion liters) on Georgia.
  
By comparison, Hurricane Harvey, which stalled over the Texas coast, dumped about 20 trillion gallons (76 trillion liters) on Texas and 7 trillion gallons (26 trillion liters) of rain on Louisiana in about five days. One place around Houston got more than 50 inches (130 centimeters) of rain. Irma is expected to crawl steadily through the Sunshine State.
  
The National Hurricane Center projects 15 to 20 inches (38 to 50 centimeters) of rain with spots up to 25 inches (64 centimeters) for the Florida Keys. Western Florida is forecast to get 10 to 15 inches of rain (25 to 38 centimeters), with as much as 20 inches (50 centimeters) in spots. The rest of Florida and southeastern Georgia is projected to get 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 centimeters) of rain, with isolated outbursts up to 16 inches (40 centimeters).
  
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1:30 p.m.
  
Emergency workers in inflatable boats are navigating flooded streets along Havana's coast, where thousands of people left their homes for safer ground before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba.
  
Seawater has penetrated as much as 1,600 feet (500 meters) inland in parts of the city. Trees are toppled, roofs have been torn off, cement water tanks have fallen from roofs to the ground and electrical lines are down.
  
Elena Villar is a Havana resident whose home of 30 years filled with more than 6 feet (2 meters) of water.
  
She was on the edge of tears Sunday as she said: "I have lost everything."
  
Villar and her mother spent the night huddling in the lobby of a higher building nearby as the storm raked the city.
  
In her words: "I have never seen a disaster like this."
  
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1:30 p.m.
  
Thanks to Hurricane Irma, Savannah, Georgia, has been evacuated for the second time in less than a year. Atlanta, meanwhile, is under a tropical-storm warning for the first time ever.
  
Nearly all of Georgia was under some type of severe-weather warning Sunday as Irma churned near Florida. The National Hurricane Center predicted the storm's center to cross Monday into southwest Georgia, where a hurricane warning was issued for communities including Albany and Valdosta.
  
Portions of western Alabama and coastal South Carolina were also under tropical-storm warnings.
  
The National Weather Service confirmed it had never before issued a tropical-storm warning for Atlanta, where wind gusts could reach 55 mph (88 kph). That's nothing new to Savannah and the rest of coastal Georgia, which evacuated last October for Hurricane Matthew.
  
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1:10 p.m.
  
The White House says President Donald Trump has received a "comprehensive update" on Hurricane Irma.
  
Irma plowed into the Florida Keys on Sunday and was forecast to march up the state's west coast.
  
Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and several Cabinet members participated in the briefing from Camp David - the presidential retreat where Trump has spent the weekend monitoring the storm.
  
Other administration officials joined in from the White House or Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington.
  
Pence and several Cabinet secretaries are planning to visit FEMA headquarters later Sunday.
  
The White House says Trump has spoken with the governors of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. Irma could affect all four states.
  
Florida Gov. Rick Scott says he also spoke with Trump on Sunday.
  
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1:05 p.m.
  
Deputies shot and wounded a burglar and arrested his accomplice at a Florida home as Hurricane Irma blew in.
  
The Broward Sheriff's Office said in a news release Sunday that the homeowners in Weston were out of town but saw the burglars remotely inside the house through a home surveillance system.
  
Deputies responded shortly before 3 a.m. and one of the two juvenile males was shot outside the home. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. The other person was arrested.
  
Their names were not immediately released.
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12:55 p.m.
High winds are impeding Miami authorities' ability to reach a construction crane toppled by Hurricane Irma.
  
The crane fell onto a high-rise building that's under construction. It's in a bayfront area filled with hotels and high-rise condo and office buildings, near AmericanAirlines Arena.
  
Miami-Dade County Director of Communications Mike Hernandez said emergency personnel couldn't immediately respond to the scene because of high winds. Authorities urged people to avoid the area after the Sunday morning collapse. It wasn't clear if there were any injuries.
  
Miami City Manager Daniel Alfonso said 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, is a slow process that would have taken about two weeks, according to city officials.
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12:20 p.m.
Florida sheriff's deputies rescued a couple who tried to ride out Hurricane Irma on a small sailboat.
  
Christine Weiss of the Martin County Sheriff's Office said a passer-by noticed the couple was in trouble Sunday. It happened just off Jensen Beach, which is on the Atlantic Coast north of Palm Beach.
  
Video shows a Martin County patrol boat manned by deputies John Howell and James Holloran and Detective Mathew Fritchie pulling up next to the sailboat.
  
The task of helping the couple onto their boat was precarious as both boats bobbed in choppy water. Deputies then took them to shore.
  
The names of the couple were not released. They were not injured.
  
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12:10 p.m.
  
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says the death toll caused by Hurricane Irma on the Caribbean territory of St. Maarten has risen to four.
  
Rutte said Sunday, "unfortunately there are more victims to mourn" after the bodies of two people washed up on the island. He says the identities of the victims are not yet known.
  
One of the four people listed as victims by the Dutch authorities died of natural causes as the Category 5 hurricane lashed St. Maarten, badly damaging or destroying 70 percent of homes on the Dutch part of the Caribbean island.
  
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11:40 a.m.
  
Some Miami Police officers remembered to pack an essential in their hurricane survival pack: Cuban coffee known as cafecito.
  
The department tweeted a picture showing a coffee maker atop a camp stove. It read: "As our officers ride out the storm, some have brought the (hashtag) Miami essentials to help them get through the night."
  
The strongly caffeinated brew is a staple in Miami.
  
Former FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said this week he'd check Cuban coffee stands to gauge Irma's impacts on Miami.
  
Fugate is known for creating the so-called "Waffle House Index." Fugate used the Southern restaurant chain as a benchmark for how quickly local communities could rebound from hurricanes.
  
Waffle House are known for being open most of the time. Under the index, a closed Waffle House was a bad sign. There are no Waffle Houses in Miami, so Fugate suggested an alternative.
  
"Cuban coffee stands - if those are closed, it is bad," he told AP.
  
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11:25 a.m.
  
President Donald Trump has spoken with the governors of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee as Hurricane Irma moves north.
  
All four states could be affected by the storm, which struck the Florida Keys on Sunday.
  
The White House says Trump spoke with the officials Sunday from the Camp David presidential retreat, where he was spending the weekend.
  
Trump has been in regular contract with Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio over the past week. Chief of staff John Kelly spoke Sunday with Florida Sen. Bill Nelson.
  
Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were scheduled to receive an updated Irma briefing on Sunday.
  
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11:15 a.m.
  
As Hurricane Irma evacuees fill up Atlanta hotels and shelters, folks are getting creative to offer them a hand.
  
About 100 of America's top chefs who had gathered for their annual summit changed gears. They pivoted their planned Monday agenda on "heritage grains" and "how to cut food waste." Now, instead, the chefs will prepare a gourmet feast for Irma refugees and serve it at a church.
  
Hotels were full Sunday morning. At the luxury Georgian Terrace Hotel, staff were flexible with rules to accommodate evacuees. Guests walked pit bulls through the lobby. Large families pulled roller bags and clutched blankets as they squeezed into small rooms without enough beds.
  
A block away, a church offered free hugs for evacuees.
  
And a chalkboard sign outside a restaurant offered a discount: "30% OFF Food with FLORIDA ID for Hurricane evacuees."
  
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11:05 a.m.
  
The National Hurricane Center says Category 4 Hurricane Irma is now "headed for the southwest Florida coast" as winds continue to pick up speed in all of South Florida.
  
Irma continues to be armed with 130 mph winds as its large eye passes north of the Keys.
  
Storm surge is forecast for 10 to 15 feet in southwestern Florida.
  
Hurricane-force winds are continuing throughout southern Florida, including the Keys. The hurricane center warns that winds affecting upper floors of high-rise building will be much stronger than at ground level.
  
The hurricane center also emphasizes that Irma will bring life-threatening wind to much of Florida regardless of the exact track of its center.
  
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10:55 a.m.
  
Puerto Rico's governor says there will be no classes on Monday because hundreds of schools still do not have power or water after the island took a hit from Hurricane Irma.
  
Ricardo Rossello said Sunday that more than 600 schools don't have power and more than 400 don't have water. Another nearly 400 schools don't have either, and dozens are flooded.
  
Nearly 600,000 people in the U.S. territory remain without power, representing 40 percent of customers of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.
  
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10:50 a.m.
  
The National Weather Service says that a crane has collapsed in Miami as strong wind from Hurricane Irma blows in.
  
It's one of two-dozen in the city.
  
The weather service's Miami office said in a Tweet that one of its employees witnessed the crane boom and counterweight collapse in downtown Miami. The employee captured video of the collapse.
  
It wasn't immediately clear if the collapse caused damage or injuries.
  
The cranes have been a concern.
  
Construction sites across Irma's potential path in Florida were locked down to remove or secure building materials, tools and debris that could be flung by Irma's winds.
  
But the horizontal arms of the tall tower cranes remained loose despite the potential danger of collapse. According to city officials, it would have taken about two weeks to move the cranes and there wasn't enough time.
  
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10:40 a.m.
  
Hurricane Irma's large eye is beginning to move slowly away from the Florida Keys as it continues north with 130 mph (215 kph) winds.
  
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami reported that the center of core of Irma is about 25 miles (40 km) northeast of Key West.
  
Irma is so wide that a gust of 93 mph (150 kph) was measured near Key Largo at the other end of the Florida Keys.
  
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10:35 a.m.
  
A Florida Keys refuge for a unique subspecies of deer is in the crosshairs of Hurricane Irma.
  
The Florida Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key is about 10 miles from where the storm made landfall Sunday morning.
  
It's the only place in world where you find Key deer, a unique subspecies of white-tailed deer about 3 feet tall at the shoulder - the size of a large dog.
  
The herd faced a potential extinction event last year when the first screwworm infestation in the U.S. in 30 years. Fewer than 1,000 of the endangered deer remain, and the parasites that eat the flesh of living mammals killed 135 Key deer before state and federal agriculture authorities stopped the infestation earlier this year.
  
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10:30 a.m.
  
France's Interior Minister expressed relief that Hurricane Jose spared French Caribbean islands St. Martin and St. Barts further devastation.
  
Gerard Collomb, speaking at a press conference in Paris Sunday, said that Jose passed miles away.
  
Meanwhile, a spokesman for France's government defended its handling of the hurricane crisis in St. Martin and St. Barts amid criticism that many in the local population felt abandoned by authorities.
  
Christophe Castaner, speaking in an interview with Europe1-CNews-Les Echos on Sunday, said he "perfectly (understood) the anger" of residents after Hurricane Irma tore through the French Caribbean islands, killing several people, destroying houses and cutting off the water supply. Some shops were subsequently looted by locals.
  
But he insisted the means deployed by the government were robust - with emergency help given "first priority."
  
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10:25 a.m.
  
Florida officials say 127,000 people across the state have taken refuge in more than 500 shelters as Hurricane Irma takes aim at the state.
  
The state Division of Emergency Management did not specify which shelters had the most people.
  
Meanwhile, utility officials were warning that the storm could leave millions without power by the time it finishes moving through the state. Already, more than 1.3 million Florida customers were in the dark on Sunday morning as the hurricane made landfall in the Florida Keys.
  
Florida Power & Light, the state's largest utility, is reporting on Sunday that many people living in the three populous south Florida counties of Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach are without power. State officials say another 64,000 customers who rely on smaller utilities have also lost electricity.
  
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10:10 a.m.
  
For the first time, a tropical storm warning has been issued for the city of Atlanta.
  
The National Weather Service in Peachtree City, Georgia, said Sunday it was the first time such a warning had been issued for the metro Atlanta area. High wind warnings have been issued in previous storms.
  
The warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within the next 36 hours. Peak winds were expected to reach 30 to 40 mph (48 to 64 kph) with gusts of up to 55 mph (88 kph).
  
The weather service says storm threats include damage to porches, carports, sheds and unanchored mobile homes. Roads may become impassable due to debris. Power outages could occur.
  
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9:50 a.m.
  
Hurricane Irma became tied for the seventh strongest storm to make landfall in U.S. history by a key measurement of atmospheric pressure.
  
Hurricane Irma made landfall at Cudjoe Key at 9:10 a.m. with a minimum central pressure of 929 millibars. Atmospheric pressure is one of the major measurements meteorologists use to describe storms. The lower the pressure, the stronger the storm.
  
Only six storms on record had lower pressures when striking the United States, including Katrina. When Katrina hit in 2005, it had lower pressure but its wind speed kept it at Category 3.
  
The 929 pressure mark ties Irma with the deadly 1928 Lake Okeechobee hurricane.
  
Irma's arrival also marks another first.
  
Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach says this is the first year on record that the United States has been hit by two storms that were Category 4 upon landfall: Harvey and Irma.
  
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9:45 a.m.
  
As Hurricane Irma threatened to wallop the St. Petersburg area, several folks got out on the beach ahead of the storm.
  
As they milled about Sunday morning, they looked at sailboats bobbing in the wind as the sun rose and took selfies and photos of the beach.
  
St. Petersburg resident John Leuders says he feels safe. With stores out of plywood, he tore down part of his fence to board up windows. He came down to the beach out of curiosity and noted the strong winds along the water.
  
Another resident, Sally Carlson, says she's been around for other storms and hurricanes, but this one scares her. She says she wanted to see the city one more time before any problems.
  
She adds: "I'm hoping it comes out unscathed, but I know better."
  
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9:40 a.m.
  
Florida utility officials say more than 1 million customers have lost power as Hurricane Irma hits the state.
  
Florida Power & Light Company said that nearly 1.1 million customers statewide were without power Sunday morning.
  
About 574,000 of those outages were in Miami-Dade County, while there were 360,000 in Broward and nearly 136,000 in Palm Beach County.
  
The massive storm made landfall in the Florida Keys, and its center was forecast to move up the state's Gulf Coast. But the effects are being felt far from the center because of Irma's size.
  
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9:25 a.m.
  
Hurricane Irma has made landfall in the Florida Keys.
  
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said the center of the massive hurricane made landfall on Cudjoe Key in the lower Florida Keys at 9:10 a.m.
  
Its top sustained winds are 130 mph (215 kph).
  
Forecasters say a gust of 106 mph (171 kph) was reported on Big Pine Key.
  
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9:00 a.m.
  
The Florida Highway Patrol says two people have died in a head-on crash in a county where Hurricane Irma's wind and rain have started to blow in.
  
Agency spokesman Greg Bueno said the crash happened Sunday morning in Hardee County, which is southeast of Tampa.
  
It wasn't immediately clear what role the weather may have played. He says troopers are investigating the crash and no further details were immediately available.
  
Bueno said in an email that the area is starting to feel the effects of Hurricane Irma.
  
The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for the county, saying a severe thunderstorm was in the area.
  
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8:55 a.m.
  
The National Hurricane Center forecasts that the core of Hurricane Irma will likely chug directly for the highly populated Tampa-St. Petersburg region after it gets through raking the Keys, but the storm is so massive all of Florida will be feeling the Category 4 hurricane's fury.
  
The center of the storm was just off Key West Sunday morning.
  
The latest forecast of Irma's eye - which still can change - keeps the nearly 400-mile wide (640-kilometer) storm in the water, barely off the coast of southwestern Florida's Fort Myers and Naples.
  
But that also puts that region in the strongest northeast quadrant of the storm, where storm surge, wind, rain and tornado threats are highest.
  
And a few miles wiggle could bring Irma's eye - which has measured 30 miles wide (48 kilometers) - inland.
  
The storm is moving slowly, about 8 mph (13 kilometers per hour) so its eye is likely to hit the Tampa region around 2 a.m. Monday, but damaging winds, storm, surge, rain and tornadoes will reach the area long before then.
  
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8:45 a.m.
  
Doctors were forced to talk a Florida woman through delivering her baby at home while Hurricane Irma's outer bands lashed Miami.
  
The City of Miami said on its Twitter account early Sunday that firefighters couldn't respond in time to the woman in the Little Haiti neighborhood. So doctors from Jackson Health System talked her through the birth of the baby girl at home.
  
Authorities say firefighters were able to make it to the woman Sunday morning and take her to the hospital after the girl was born.
  
Miami-Dade fire spokeswoman Erika Benitez said the fire department is responding to calls on a case-by-case basis as strong winds and rain lash the area. They are encouraging residents to stay inside because of downed power lines and debris.
  
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8:20 a.m.
  
Florida authorities have issued another stern warning about Hurricane Irma: Shooting bullets into the storm won't help keep you safe.
  
The Pasco County Sheriff's Office tweeted late Saturday: "DO NOT shoot weapons  (hashtag) Irma. You won't make it turn around (and) it will have very dangerous side effects."
  
The sheriff's office, which is in the Tampa Bay-area, was responding to a Facebook event page created two Florida men inviting people to shoot at Irma.
  
The page reads: "YO SO THIS GOOFY ... LETS SHOW IRMA THAT WE SHOOT FIRST ..."
  
The invitation presumably was a joke, but 80,000 people indicated they were "going" or "interested" in the event.
  
In a tweet early Sunday, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office asked the thousands of people who had shared the page to also share their request for volunteers needed at hurricane shelters.
  
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8 a.m.
  
Forecasters say Hurricane Irma's center is poised to blow across the Florida Keys.
  
The northern eyewall of the storm reached the island chain early Sunday.
  
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said in a public advisory that the center of the storm remained offshore but was going to make landfall soon. The storm was centered about 20 miles east (30 km) of Key West, and it was moving north-northwest at 8 mph (13 kph)
  
The storm had maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215) kph. The National Weather Service reported wind gusts of 90 mph (145 kph) near its Key West office.
  
After hitting the Florida Keys, Irma was forecast to move up the state's Gulf Coast later Sunday.
  
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7:55 a.m.
  
The National Weather Service in Miami has issued tornado warnings for a wide swath of Monroe, Miami-Dade and Broward counties in South Florida.
  
Officials say the band of rain and tornado producing cells is moving quickly.
  
There have been no reports of tornadoes touching down.
  
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7:50 a.m.
  
Authorities are urging people who chose to ride out Hurricane Irma in the Florida Keys to remain indoors until the storm passes.
  
The storm's eyewall reached the chain of islands Sunday morning. The National Weather Service reported wind gusts of 90 mph (145 kph) near its Key West office.
  
In a Facebook post early Sunday, Key West Police urged people who stayed for the hurricane to remain where they took shelter until the storm had passed completely. They also urged people not to go outside when the eye of the storm is over there area, a time period when conditions can seem deceptively calm.
  
John Huston, who is riding out the storm from his home in Key Largo in the upper Keys, says the wind gusts are strong in his area.
  
"Water level is higher today," he said via text message Sunday morning. "Incredible wind that won't stop."
  
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7:05 a.m.
  
Hurricane Irma's eyewall has reached the Florida Keys.
  
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says the storm's northern eyewall reached the lower Florida Keys Sunday morning. The eyewall is a band of clouds surrounding the center of the storm that has intense winds and strong rain.
  
The hurricane center says Key West International Airport has measured sustained winds of 50 mph (80 kph).
  
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7:00 a.m.
  
Hundreds of thousands of people are without power in Florida as Hurricane Irma's winds and rain lash the state.
  
Irma's center was over water off Key West early Sunday, but places including Miami were being hit with strong winds and rain.
  
Florida Power & Light Company said that about 430,000 customers were without power Sunday morning. Miami-Dade County had the most outages with about 250,000. Broward County had 130,000 outages. Palm Beach County had more than 40,000 outages.
  
The utility said that it has mobilized crews and is working to restore power as it can.

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