"The people of Florida need to know that our hearts and our prayers and all of our efforts are with them and will be with them until this storm passes", the Vice President Mike Pence said. Devastating flooding can also be observed in numerous videos. The storm made landfall in the Florida Keys over the weekend.
"From 3 to 5 a.m. we'll have high tide and the winds will pull all of that water back onto shore", said Storm Team 8 meteorologist Leigh Spann.
Numerous hurricane warnings and watches are in effect, including the Tampa Bay region and all of south Florida.
Numerous evacuation orders extended until at least Monday, due in part to flooding, massive power outages and downed electric lines, leaving residents unable to return to their homes to survey any damage.
FEMA Chief Brock Long said he believed the Keys and Collier County in southwest Florida took the brunt of the storm.
The US aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln was off Florida's east coast and two amphibious assault ships were en route to help in the Keys.
Hurricane Irma-a massive, powerful storm that has killed at least 20 people already-has shifted its main target as it approached Florida Saturday afternoon.
- Storm surge warnings in Florida, Georgia and SC mean "there is a danger of life-threatening inundation", the hurricane center said. Interstate 95 in Duval County and parts of Interstate 75 and Interstate 95 in Miami-Dade County remained closed because of flooding or debris.
"The most recent trajectory models have it impacting more of Georgia than the original projections that were designed, we thought, only to hit the coastal areas of our state", he said.
Utility officials said they have almost 20,000 workers helping with the restoration effort.
Monroe County opened road access on Tuesday morning for residents and business owners from Key Largo, the main island at the upper end of the chain, as well as the towns of Tavernier and Islamorada farther to the south, fire officials said.
"So when you refuse to evacuate when a mandatory order has been issued, you have said you're going to do it on your own", he said.
And in Alabama, some city school districts including Birmingham, Huntsville and Auburn planned to close Monday and in some cases Tuesday. Petersburg area had feared a first direct hit from a major hurricane since 1921, but the storm weakened to a Category 2 as it approached. Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas in August.
Are you affected by Irma?
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