Hurricane Irma made its second landfall on Marco Island on the southwest Florida coast this afternoon with 115 mph winds after battering the Florida Keys earlier today. The hurricane, which is barreling toward Naples with powerful wind and rain, has left at least three people dead in Florida, including a sheriff’s deputy, and over 2 million customers without power.
With millions of Floridians under orders to evacuate, many are desperately seeking shelter from the storm. One Naples resident told ABC News she was turned away from two shelters before she and her 10-year-old son were finally accepted at one. “We have a dog and there were not that many shelters that accepted dogs,” she said, adding, “We didn’t want to be that far away from our home.” While she and her son stay inside the shelter, her husband is hunkering down with their dog at home.
As the storm lashed Miami today, winds whipped around high-rise buildings at speeds approaching 100 mph, the National Weather Service said. Two cranes collapsed in Miami and a 94 mph wind gust was recorded at Miami International Airport.
Irma this morning also brought wind gusts of 120 mph to the National Key Deer Refuge on the Florida Keys and 89 mph winds to Key West.
Florida Keys officials said today that residents who evacuated should not return until further notice.
Visibility became poor in Naples this afternoon as the storm neared.
Some now sheltered in Naples had fled from the eastern side of Florida when it was first forecast that Irma would hit the eastern coastline. The mayor of Naples said those in hotels around the city are being ordered out of common areas and into their rooms.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned residents of dangerous storm surges that could reach 10 to 15 feet above sea level in the Naples area.
“Do not think the storm is over when the wind slows down,” Scott said Saturday. The dangerous storm surge “will rush in and could kill you.”
“You need to stay in a safe place,” the governor said. “Be prepared, listen to local evacuation advisories.”
Fatalities in Florida
As Irma bore down on Florida this morning, at least three deaths were reported in the state.
A man in Monroe County, which encompasses Key West, was killed after he lost control of a truck that carried a generator as winds whipped at tropical-storm strength, officials said.
Two other people, a sheriff’s deputy and a corrections officer, died from a two-car crash in the rain in Hardee County, which is about 60 miles inland from Sarasota, officials said.
The deputy, identified as Julie Bridges, was a 13-year veteran of the county force, said Hardee County Sheriff Arnold Lanier. She was heading home after a night shift, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
The second victim was a sergeant at the Hardee Correctional Institute who had been on his way to work, the highway patrol said.
Irma has left at least 27 people dead in the Caribbean, according to authorities.
Millions ordered to evacuate
As the monster storm neared, about 6.5 million Floridians were under mandatory and voluntarily evacuation orders. Evacuations were ordered in Georgia and South Carolina as well.