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Updated at 9:13 p.m. on Sept. 10, 2017 

Hurricane Irma is moving northward, and dangerous storm surges are expected along the west coast of Florida, according to an 8 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center.  

Miami Herald

Among the pleas for help and those marking themselves safe in Florida, people from across the country are taking to social media to open their homes for those in need.

From California to New Jersey, people have been connecting with victims of Irma using the Facebook safety check-in to to offer help to people who were forced to evacuate Florida due to Hurricane Irma.

Florida Storms

President Donald Trump approved a major disaster declaration for areas in Florida affected by Hurricane Irma.

Governor Rick Scott made the request for federal assistance earlier today.

In a press release, Scott said, “It’s clear that the entire country is standing with Florida as Hurricane Irma batters our state right now. I have heard from people all across the world that want to help and support Florida. It’s encouraging, and on behalf of all Floridians - we appreciate the support and constant collaboration.”

Spend A Day With Heroes Hunkered Down At Broward EOC

Sep 10, 2017
Jessica Bakeman / WLRN

As Hurricane Irma’s dangerous eye wall neared South Florida early Sunday morning, groggy emergency-management workers in Broward County prepared to start the 6 a.m. shift.

Women wary of yellow-tinted water coming out of the faucets brushed their teeth with Dasani and applied make up in the communal bathroom. In the cafeteria, some sat quietly eating roasted potatoes and bacon and mixing cream into their coffee, while others laughed boisterously, the morning shift workers seemingly experiencing a mix of exhaustion and delirium.

Florida Power and Light has almost 17,000 people working on their team to bring Florida back to power, according to the company's Chief Communications Officer Rob Gould.

The restoration team is three times the size of their average crew and 25 percent more than the crew they established for Hurricane Matthew in 2016. 

"To help us get the lights back on and rebuild, we've assembled the largest restoration force, propositioned, not just in our company's history but in the United States," Gould said.

Winds from Hurricane Irma are pushing dangerous storm surge into areas along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts in South Florida. As of the 11 a.m. forecast from the National Weather Service, some parts of Southwest Florida could see storm surge in excess of nine feet. 


Wilson Sayre / WLRN News

As Hurricane Irma continues, WLRN is is working with a team of journalism students, faculty and staff to identify social media dispatches that tell the story of the storm through the eyes of the people experiencing it.

Wilson Sayre / WLRN

Out at a tent village populated mostly by registered sex offenders on the edge of Miami and Hialeah, it appeared most had packed up their stuff Friday evening in the face of Hurricane Irma.

A few tents still stood a few hours before their 10:00 curfew, but most had bundled belongings underneath tarps or rolled in their disassembled tents.

But there’s a problem.

“There’s this dilemma of where can they go,” said Jill Levenson a professor at Barry University who studies the effectiveness of policy as it relates to sex offenders.


Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys Sunday morning and in response, Facebook has activated its safety check-in feature.

The feature allows people enduring the storm to mark themselves as safe so their friends and family can be updated on their situation. The feature can also be used as a way for people to request help.

Many are already using their check-ins to offer food or water to other Floridians.

Kate Stein / WLRN News

Some Palm Beach County residents who evacuated Hurricane Irma left everything behind, including pets. 

Palm Beach County’s animal control officers have been hustling to rescue abandoned animals.

Some of them were loose, some were in pens, some were tethered, according to Palm Beach County's Animal Care and  Control Director Dianne Sauve. She says officers rescued around 50 dogs and two cats over the past two days. 

Some animals were chained to trees and parked cars.

Officials say, with a potentially deadly hurricane on the way, it’s felony animal cruelty.

Associated Press

Barbuda was the first. A Category 5 Hurricane Irma swept the island with its powerful 185 mile per hour winds. One person died. The prime minister said 95 percent of the buildings were destroyed after the storm passed.

On Wednesday, Irma made history: It became one of the most powerful recorded storm in the Atlantic Ocean. It bulldozed the U.S. Virgin Islands, ripping roofs off houses in St. Barts and flooding St. Martin. By the time the hurricane left St. Martin and St. Barts, 11 people died. 

Wilson Sayre / WLRN News

While many people in shelters across South Florida are glued to televisions, anxiously waiting for Hurricane Irma to pass, there have been some happy moments as these shelters turn into mini communities.

Among stacks of blankets and air mattresses in the cafeteria at the Falcon Cove Middle School shelter in Weston, Hunter Fugh squirts icing from a tube onto a cake.

"It's chocolate flavored and it has chocolate frosting on the top. We’re eating cake because it’s my birthday," said now 6-year-old Hunter.

Wilson Sayre / WLRN News

The following is a collection of dispatches from WLRN reporters staying at shelters in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, which by 6 p.m. on Saturday were hosting almost 45,000 people (15,000 in Broward and more than 29,000 in Miami-Dade), as well as about 1,000 pets. 

Eric Gay / AP via Miami Herald

Two days ago – when Hurricane Irma was forecast to hit Miami directly as a Category 5 storm – Miami-Dade County was staring at a potential storm surge of 10 feet. Now that Irma’s path has shifted west to Florida’s Gulf coast, the surge is expected to be half that.

But Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez is warning that’s still enough to cause not just dangerous flooding but drowning – especially since South Florida may well experience the equivalent of Category 1 or 2 hurricane winds when Irma arrives early Sunday.

Walter Michot / Miami Herald

Downed power lines, standing water, damaged buildings--hurricanes continue to be dangerous well after the last rain band has moved on.