Hurricane Irma smashed into Florida as a category 4 storm on Sunday, leaving more than 1.4m properties without power as 130mph winds and sea surges left homes in the Keys, a string of low-lying islands on the state’s southernmost tip, under water.
Further north, Miami residents awoke to find they had dodged the most dangerous part of the storm after its track shifted west and focused much of the danger on Tampa and St Petersburg. But downtown Miami streets were flooded, “Stop” signs twisted in 70mph winds, cranes toppled over and flying debris smashed into homes and buildings.
Earlier on Sunday Cuba, which prides itself on disaster management, was dealing with heavy flooding in Havana after 35ft waves battered seafront hotels and severely damaged tourist areas in the north. At least 25 people have been killed across the Caribbean.
The unexpected change in Irma’s path means Florida’s low-lying Gulf coast will now suffer the brunt of the Texas-sized storm, with up to 15ft of life-threatening seawater storm surge. Irma is then forecast to swing inland towards Georgia on Monday. The National Hurricane Center issued tornado warnings throughout southern Florida.
“艾尔玛”意外改道意味着佛罗里达州地势较低的墨西哥湾沿岸地区将遭受这场风暴的最大冲击，这场飓风的波及面相当于德克萨斯州，并带来高达15英尺的危险海水风暴潮。根据预报，“艾尔玛”周一将扑向内陆地区，直奔乔治亚州。美国国家飓风中心(National Hurricane Center)针对整个南佛罗里达发布了龙卷风预警。
“This is a worst-case scenario” for the west coast and the Florida Keys, Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said on Fox News. “Storm surge has the highest potential to kill the most amount of people and cause the most damage.”
联邦紧急事务管理署(Federal Emergency Management Agency，简称FEMA)负责人布罗克•朗(Brock Long)在福克斯新闻(Fox News)上表示，对佛罗里达西海岸和佛罗里达礁岛群而言，这是“最糟糕情形”。“风暴潮造成最多人员伤亡和最大破坏的可能性最高。”
Rick Scott, Florida governor, added: “I’m very concerned about the west coast. The storm surge is absolutely life threatening. It’s going to be devastating to these areas.”
Florida Power & Light, the state’s largest utility, said repairs to its power system would take weeks, threatening to leave millions in the dark. Elaine Duke, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said on MSNBC that they expected 5m people eventually to lose power in Florida.
该州最大公用事业公司Florida Power & Light表示，修复其电力系统需要数周时间，这可能使数百万人继续断电。美国国土安全部(Department of Homeland Security)代理部长伊莱恩•杜克(Elaine Duke)在MSNBC上表示，该部预计佛罗里达州最终将有500万人遭遇断电。
More than 6m people have been ordered to leave their homes in the state, the largest mass evacuation in US history. More than 500,000 of them are around Tampa, on the Gulf coast. Tampa is widely deemed one of the US cities most vulnerable to storms because of western Florida’s shallow continental shelf, over which high winds can pile more water than along deeper shorelines, followed by the narrow opening of Tampa Bay through which the surge waters could be funneled onshore.
President Donald Trump has pledged to provide whatever resources the state needs to rebuild from Irma, Mr Scott said. The damage may be significant. According to RMS, an analytics firm, Irma has a storm force of 100 terajoules, three times the size of Hurricane Harvey, which struck Texas last month and caused an estimated $180bn of damage.
佛罗里达州州长斯科特表示，唐纳德•特朗普(Donald Trump)总统已承诺，向受飓风“艾尔玛”袭击的该州提供灾后重建所需的一切资源。此次灾情可能非常严重。根据分析公司RMS的数据，“艾尔玛”的风暴能量可能达到100太焦耳，是上月袭击德克萨斯州(Texas)、估计造成1800亿美元损失的飓风“哈维”(Hurricane Harvey)的三倍。
The UN estimates that around 37m people will be affected by Irma in total, throughout the US and the Caribbean.