Hurricane Irma heading to Tampa

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Brickell Avenue, South Florida's version of Wall Street, turned into a fast-moving river Sunday as Hurricane Irma flooded a district lined with wealth managers, banks and luxury hotels.

"They have told us that we have to wait until the first people to be impacted get their lines fixed, so we don't know how long we have to wait", said petrol station worker Desi as he surveyed the damage at his Melbourne business. "Once this system passes through it's going to be a race to save lives and sustain lives".

"What we have to do is set citizen expectations. She's tracking us, that feisty minx", Cardona, 54, said by phone.

As the sun rose in Orlando, many tried to survey the damage, but authorities warned that conditions remain risky and asked people not to venture outside because of a curfew. He added, however: "I think the hard part is now beginning". "We can not be there right after the storm".

With more than 6.5 million Floridians ordered to evacuate ahead of the storm, some of the approximately 29,000 who had taken refuge in county-run shelters - a record - started getting stir-crazy Saturday afternoon and chose to go back home, despite warnings that Irma had yet to arrive, and road conditions were deteriorating.

Hurricane Irma pounded heavily populated areas of central Florida on Monday as it carved through the state with high winds, storm surges and torrential rains that left millions without power, ripped roofs off homes and flooded city streets.

He said teams were assessing the storm's impact on the bridges that link the keys, which may not be safe to cross.

He said there have been unsafe rip currents on the N.C. coast.

Irma was already whipping south Florida with winds on Saturday, and the governor said 76,000 people were without power.

More than 6 million electricity accounts in Florida are now without power, state officials say.

Irma's core was nearing the heavily-populated Tampa and St. Petersburg area early on Monday, moving inland in a much-weakened state.

Dozens of people were arrested for looting in Miami and Fort Lauderdale during the storm, including nine people in Fort Lauderdale captured on Local 10 news footage walking out of shoe stores with stolen items.

County administrator, Roman Gastesi said crews would begin house-to-house searches to check on survivors and an airborne relief mission led by C-130 military cargo planes is gearing up to bring emergency supplies to the Keys.

Scott has repeatedly warned residents to heed warnings, stressing that the "sole focus is on life safety". Mayor Tomás Regalado said 72 percent of the city of Miami is now without power, NPR's Hansi Lo Wang reports.

If he had been in charge, he would have told people on the Gulf Coast to evacuate at the same time as the people on the east coast, he said. "You don't want to be in that path". This is a barrier island. "This is why we ask and plead with people to be ready for multiple days, and unfortunately this is coming into reality".

Former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate was even more direct in an interview with CNN: "Let me be blunt: anybody who didn't evacuate will drown; that's the risk". Two tornadoes touched ground Saturday in Oakland Park and Wilton Manors, and tornado warnings were briefly in effect Saturday night and early Sunday morning in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Voluntary evacuations were also issued for Leon County. "You need to be concerned". Those who could help were urged to email BPRCHDPreparedness@flhealth.gov.

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