Hurricane Irma continued today to destroy vast areas in Florida. Streets became rivers, millions remain without power and thousands are still stuck inside crowded shelters. The storm has weakened but experts are warning flooding is still a major concern.

Rising floodwaters in Miami

Rising floodwaters in Miami Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

Hurricane Irma continued to hit Florida’s coastline Sunday night, where heavy rainfall and powerful winds reigned. Trees and infrastructure collapsed causing significant overall damage. Many cities along the state’s coastline became virtual “ghost cities” after millions of residents fled the lethal superstorm and the rest remain in their homes.

US President Donald Trump approved a disaster declaration for the areas hit by Irma. The significance of this announcement means that residents whose assets were destroyed will be able to receive federal compensation.

The American National Hurricane Center reported that Irma’s strength was downgraded to a category 1 storm after it significantly became weaker; nevertheless, it warned of floodwaters possibly rising as high as 4.5 meters above ground.

Apart from vast infrastructure damage throughout Florida, the superstorm is depriving over 3 million households and businesses of power, according to local electricity professionals. “Reconnecting them may take weeks” officials claimed. The lethal storm claimed at least 3 lives in South Florida as it hit Key West.

Flooding in Florida

Flooding in Florida Photo Credit: CNN/Channel 2 News

Millions more are at risk of losing power as the storm continues northwest. During the night, at least 160,000people slept in shelters throughout the state. Trump addressed the rescue efforts, praising the working authorities, and stated that he intends to visit Florida himself soon.

Although the storm lost some of its previous momentum as it hit the ground, experts warn that it remains powerful, with winds recorded as fast as 110 kph as it continues north towards Tampa. Floodwaters continue to rise in the cities after heavy rainfall.

The hurricane’s eye is expected to hit western Florida, an area less prepared than Miami and other eastern cities that expected the storm to hit them. The current fear is that Irma will strike the west harder than the east. The National Hurricane Center reported that Irma will reach northern Florida earlier than expected and may also arrive in neighboring Georgia.

Thousands hide in shelters as storm hits

Thousands hide in shelters as storm hits Photo Credit: CNN/Channel 2 News