Tropical Storm Irma has unleashed some of Jacksonville’s worst floods in 100 years, inundated parts of coastal Georgia and produced heavy storm surges in Charleston, S.C.
Here's the latest:
- Irma has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but dangers linger for communities in its path
- The storm took a parting swipe at north Florida this morning before it started battering Georgia and South Carolina
- More than 155,000 people in Florida are still in shelters; more than 6 million Floridians lack power
- Irma has devastated several Caribbean islands
- What happens when the sea rises up during a hurricane?
Cuba's meteorological agency reported that Irma struck overnight north of central Camaguey province, home to the country’s third-largest city, with winds so strong that they destroyed measurement instruments.
Hurricane-strength winds were later recorded in the northern half of Camaguey, the agency said. Irma was the first Category 5 hurricane to hit the province in 85 years, according to the state media. Damage was reported across the province, the station said: roofs torn off, trees downed and power disconnected.
“No one wants to leave the house, only silence is interrupted by gusts of wind and rain,” Yoani Sanchez, who runs a Havana-based digital news service, 14ymedio, tweeted in Spanish about the situation in Camaguey.
Sanchez posted photos of people crowding the streets of Havana to pray. She reported that supplies were running low.
“Having at least one candle is, at this time, the dream of thousands of Cubanos, but many cannot: the shortage is worsening,” she wrote.
Irma advanced from Camaguey into neighboring provinces with 16- to 23-foot waves along the coast. Even bigger waves and widespread flooding were expected today as the storm moves into coastal northern Cuba, including Havana, the agency said.
Irma's center approached the northern coastal resort town of Caibarién early Saturday with winds of 130 mph, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.
Video posted online showed city streets and palm trees racked by sheets of rain and powerful winds, which knocked out power in the tourist town and flooded main streets and even inland homes with three to four feet of water.
The Cuban provinces of Holguin and Las Tunas remained under a hurricane watch advisory Saturday, while the capital and its surrounding area could be struck by tropical storm-force winds.
In Holgium, some families have taken shelter in caves to weather the storm.
“Initial reports have begun to arrive of damage caused by Hurricane Irma in Gibara, Holguín province,” reported the online state media outlet Granma, including, “four- to eight-meter high waves causing severe damage to Gibara’s seawall and covering roads with debris.”
Nersys Sarmiento, head of civil defense in the city, told Granma that more than half of Gibara’s 43,610 residents evacuated, mostly staying with friends and family. At least 900 sheltered in state institutions, including 300 in a military facility, he said.
Seawater poured into the local hospital, which had already been evacuated, while winds ripped off the roof of a school. Fifty-meter waves from the storm surge damaged more than a dozen homes, state media reported.