Overnight clean up operations by North Miami Beach Police to clear the roads.
Hurricane Irma left a trail of damage across South Florida: flooded streets, downed trees, crushed cars, collapsed cranes, leaky homes. The long slog of assessing the damage across the region began Monday. Miami-Dade and Broward counties were spared the worst of the storm, but the Florida Keys were hit hard. Ten people were declared dead in Cuba. Now, Jacksonville is flooding.
Stay with the Miami Herald for the latest reports.
Marlins’ roof gets clipped by Irma
5:12 p.m.: The Florida Marlins’ retractable roof in Miami took a hit from Hurricane Irma.
— HOWARD COHEN
NASCAR not an Irma casualty
5:06 p.m.: Homestead-Miami Speedway’s Director of Communications Neal Gulkis said Irma won’t affect the climax of the NASCAR racing season, Ford Championship Weekend, on Nov. 17-19.
Irma, he said, caused the facility, “minor and cosmetic damage to non-essential parts of the speedway.”
Gulkis added, “We’re ready to assist local officials in Miami-Dade County with any available resources to aid the community in the recovery efforts from the storm.”
— DAVID NEAL
Gov. Scott: Middle Keys got it the worst
4:58 p.m.: Gov. Rick Scott said the damage was not as bad as he had expected — until he saw the devastation in the Middle Keys. Scott spoke with reporters at Opa Locka Airport after an aerial surveillance of Southwest Florida and the Keys.
Asked where he saw the worst damage from Irma, Scott said it was the Keys north of Key West to Marathon.
“When we got to the Keys, we saw a lot of boats washed ashore,” he said. “Almost every trailer park, everything was overturned.”
Scott said residents in the Florida Keys have no water, no sewer and no electricity, and that it will be days or weeks, maybe longer before those services are restored.
“My heart goes out. There’s devastation. I just hope everybody survived,” he said. “For our entire state, especially the Keys, it’s going to be a long road.”
— DANIEL CHANG
Nine out of 10 traffic lights out in Miami Beach
4:45 p.m.: The City of Miami Beach tweeted Monday afternoon that 90 percent of the traffic lights were down.
Given that a Monday morning drive up Washington Avenue found fully functioning lights at the Espanola Way, Lincoln Road and 17th Street intersections, that left the vast majority of the city playing polite or playing chicken at intersections with usually-functioning lights.
— DAVID NEAL
How trees become charging stations in Homestead
4:40 p.m.: Homestead City Hall was more than just governmental building Monday afternoon — it became a charging station.
With more than 80 percent of the city’s residents still without power post Hurricane Irma, about 100 people lounged outside city hall to charge their mobile devices.
Many brought extension cords and a lot of patience, said Juan Carlos Lopez, as he leaned against a palm tree.
— MONIQUE O. MADAN
Don’t go home yet — or face obstacles
4:25 p.m.: After Hurricane Irma drove them from their homes, millions of Floridians were eager to return Monday and survey what damage might await them.
Some evacuees fled hundreds of miles to escape the storm, and those crowds will soon come flooding back to the state.
They’re likely to be met with traffic delays, a fuel shortage, debris clean-up and possibly blocked access to their communities — which is why state and local officials have a singular message: Don’t try to go home yet.
— KRISTEN M. CLARK
FPL aided by drones to restore power
4:10 p.m.: Florida Power and Light contractors worked to restore power to a neighborhood in Southwest Miami-Dade County on Monday afternoon. As two workers repaired a main power line damaged by a fallen tree, a third flew a drone overhead to take photos and assess the damage.
So far, FPL has restored power to 200,000 customers in Miami-Dade. They have another 800,000 to go, said spokeswoman Florencia Contesse. In Broward County, electricity has been restored to 168,000 customers, but another 630,000 are still in the dark, Contesse said.
Efforts to restore power started even while the storm was battering South Florida, with workers venturing out between bands of weather, Contesse said. Some Miami-Dade residents could have electricity back in a matter of days, while others may have to wait weeks, she said.
“We’re continuing to assess the damage,” Contesse said. “This was a pretty severe hurricane for us.”
The workers fixing the power line in the Country Walk area were contractors with Pike, a North Carolina based company. They are among 19,500 workers helping to restore electricity throughout the state. Many have flown in from other parts of the country — some from as far away as New York and California.
— KYRA GURNEY
Navy warships await word from Florida to proceed with recovery aid
4 p.m.: Five U.S. Navy warships off the Florida coast were still awaiting word through channels from the state this afternoon on how they might be used to help in post-Irma relief operations.
“We haven’t received any formal requests at this point to provide any formal support,” said Lt. Cmdr. Brian Wierzbicki, spokesman for Fleet Forces Command, which had the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, two amphibious assault platforms, a cruiser and destroyer off the Florida coast awaiting instructions on Monday.
The Lincoln was “somewhere in the vicinity of Key West,” the Navy commander said from Norfolk, Virginia, with the cruiser USS San Jacinto and destroyer USS Farragut.
He declined to say where the two amphibious assault platforms, the Iwo Jima and New York were located: “We’re still in the planning stages of preparing to put them in the location that we need them,” he said.
— CAROL ROSENBERG
‘Crack!’ on the Beach
3:50 p.m.: Around 2 p.m. Sunday, Yohann Bagat, 40, first heard the splintering wood before a 40-foot tree crashed through a gate in front of his complex on Jefferson Avenue in Miami Beach.
“I heard it cracking,” he said, though he couldn’t venture out until the winds subsided. When he did, he found the tree — roots and all — ripped through the sidewalk, the concrete curb heaved up along the pavement.
“This whole street was massacred,” he said.
Bagat lived in Islamorada for 10 years, familiar with the destruction hurricanes could sometimes carve through the Keys. But he said he had never seen anything like this in Miami Beach.
Irma’s gusts also ripped a wide one story-high metal panel off one apartment building on Byron Avenue in North Beach Sunday afternoon. Mike Miller, who lives in a first-floor unit, felt a powerful squall sweep through around 2:30 p.m.
The winds, he said, shook the taxicab sitting outside on its tires and rattled the metal paneling so loudly his two small dogs started panicking.
“I kept saying it was going to go, going to go — and there it went,” said Miller, 67.
A state inspector assessed the damage Monday. “We made it through pretty well,” Miller said.
— ELIZABETH KOH
Coral Gables continues curfew
3:25 p.m.: Coral Gables City Manager Cathy Swanson-Rivenbark signed a continuation of an emergency curfew order for certain areas within Coral Gables that are presently under an evacuation order. This evacuation order affects Zones A, B and certain portions of C.
The curfew runs from 7 p.m. Monday to 7 a.m. Tuesday.
Swanson-Rivenbark said there have been no reported incidents in the Gables but opted to be proactive.
— HOWARD COHEN
First open: Coconut Grove
3:05 p.m.: Ashley and Zach Winkler occupied a makeshift two-top at the Flanigan’s restaurant in Coconut Grove — a small table converted out of a hostess station shortly after 2 p.m.
The wait for food was long, with a generator running the place. Limited burgers, no more fries. But the Bud Light in their pitcher was cold, and couple has no electricity at home.
“We're purposely sitting here because it’s nice and cool,” Ashley said.
— DOUGLAS HANKS
After Irma in Overtown
2:45 p.m.: At the Lil’ Greenhouse Grill in Overtown, the plywood was coming down as owners, Karim Bryant and Nicole Gates hoped to reopen by the evening.
“We’ve got a generator and we cook with gas. We want to try to provide some hot meals for people,” Gates said.
Across the street from the store and all across Northwest Third Avenue, just south of Northwest 14th Street, there were several large pieces of Styrofoam from a nearby construction site strewn about the street. Locals believe it came from the the St. John Plaza Apartments and was carried by Hurricane Irma’s heavy winds.
“Some kids came and threw the Styrofoam over the fence and out the street. If they wouldn’t have done it that stuff would’ve still been out there,” Bryant said.
Gates and Bryant, the head chef at the restaurant, said that they think the situation is another example of Overtown being overlooked when compared to areas like downtown Miami and Brickell.
“I mean there weren’t even emergency lights or anything in the parks here in Overtown. When the power went out, everything was pitch black,” Bryant said.
Gates said she did think the historically African-American city did a solid job of informing residents about the latest with the storm but hopes they will be as active in the cleanup and recovery phase.
“Overtown, with as valuable as the property is, there's a ‘We'll get to it,’ kind of attitude,” Gates said.
Gates said that she hadn’t heard of any serious damage or injuries from neighbors.
“Everybody’s just kind of doing for themselves. Our neighbors were out there chopping their own trees and helping people out,” Gates said.
— LANCE DIXON
Irma claims 10 lives in Cuba
2 p.m.: In Hurricane Irma’s relentless 72-hour march across Cuba’s north coast from east to west, the storm left 10 people dead, including two women on a Havana bus who were killed when a fourth-story balcony tumbled on to the vehicle. Irma plowed straight into Havana, sending towering waves crashing over the seaside Malecón and causing seven deaths in the capital.
“These have been difficult days for our people who, in only a few hours, have seen what they constructed with so much effort struck down by a devastating hurricane,” said Cuban leader Raúl Castro in an address to the Cuban people that was published in Granma, the Cuban Communist Party’s newspaper. “The images of the last hours are eloquent, as is the spirit of resistance and victory of our people, who are reborn with every adversity.”
— MIMI WHITEFIELD AND NORA GAMEZ TORRES
Irma took his neighbor’s roof ‘like a toy’
1:50 p.m.: Eddie Gonzalez looked out the window and was so scared by what he saw he grabbed a second belt, locked himself inside his bathroom and tied himself to a water pipe.
Hurricane Irma had peeled off his neighborhor’s roof like the top of a sardine can.
“It took it like a toy,” Gonzalez said Monday morning, standing across the street in Edgewater.
Gonzalez wasn’t the only one watching. A video posted on social media early Sunday afternoon, and later confirmed as authentic by Miami’s emergency management team, showed what appeared to be a tornado ripping off the roof of a two-story, pale yellow home on Northeast 27th Street and Fifth Avenue.
— DAVID SMILEY
Road to Keys to remain closed
1:36 p.m.: Southbound U.S. 1 in the Florida Keys will remain closed until further notice, the Florida Highway Patrol announced Monday afternoon.
“We have a lot of debris on the road, we have wires down, live wires,” said spokesman Joe Sanchez. “We have to give the proper authorities the opportunity to go down and evaluate the danger and address the danger.”
Although Hurricane Irma doesn’t appear to have broken any bridges, the Florida Department of Transportation has to finish inspecting all of the structures before the highway can reopen, Sanchez said.
State Troopers drove down U.S. 1 earlier in the day, but were only able to get as far as Mile Marker 88, Sanchez said.
“Thank God a lot of people evacuated the Keys,” he said. “When you start heading further down in the Keys that’s when you start having a lot of debris on the road and some devastation.”
The debris includes fallen trees, pieces of wood, seaweed from the storm surge and even some Sea Doo boats.
“At this time I don’t have the faintest idea when they’re going to open the roadway,” Sanchez said.
— KYRA GURNEY
Best Publix run of the year
1:30 p.m.: Ivan Abreu spent Monday looking for some food to buy in Miami. But with massive power outages, he was out of luck until he pulled into the packed parking lot of Publix on Southwest 27th Avenue and Coral Way.
“I got some chips. I got some ham and cheese to make some wraps,” said Abreu, who lives nearby and works in a jewelry store. “I got some potato salad.”
It wasn’t a total success. He wanted some buns for burgers. “To get bread,” he said, “you had to wait in a long line.”
Meantime, the convenience store line at Miami Beach’s Valero gas station, 331 23rd St, went up one aisle and back down the adjacent aisle. At the bend, next to the coolers with the desired water and beer, the first line met the end of the empanadas and cafecito queue.
And the gas lines stretched into the street.
This is what happens when you might be the first business open after Irma. Cash only, though.
— DOUGLAS HANKS, DAVID NEAL
Power update: Repair crews activated
12:50 p.m.: More than 6.5 million customers — nearly two-thirds of Floridians — had no power as of noon Monday, according to state emergency management officials.
More than 30,000 workers were activated to help restore power, Gov. Rick Scott’s office said. The Florida Highway Patrol is also escorting utility trucks to expedite their access to affected areas.
With Irma downgraded to a tropical storm, winds in Tallahassee had subsided enough by midday that city utility workers were being dispatched there.
— KRISTEN M. CLARK
Miami-Dade schools chief: Red Cross ‘didn’t show up’ at shelters
12:50 p.m.: Miami-Dade schools chief Alberto Carvalho said the county’s chaotic opening of dozens of shelters ahead of Hurricane Irma stemmed in part because the Red Cross “didn’t show up” to manage operations.
Schools served as most of the 42 shelters that Miami-Dade’s county government opened ahead of Irma, the largest ever operated as a response to an unprecedented evacuation order affecting more than 600,000 residents.
The American Red Cross has an agreement to operate shelters, but lack of staffing slowed openings in Miami-Dade and in some schools left principals scrambling to manage logistics tied to a sudden influx of more than 1,000 people looking for refuge and food.
“In some instances the Red Cross showed up very late. In some instances, the Red Cross never showed up,” Carvalho said at a press conference at Shenandoah Middle School on Monday. “We made an executive decision that we would open the shelters on our own led by our principals and our custodians and our cafeteria workers.”
A Red Cross spokesman, Robert Baltodano, referred questions to the charity’s regional communications director, Grace Meinhofer. She did not immediately respond to an email with questions.
Carvalho’s remarks were the latest to question Miami-Dade’s readiness to shelter residents for a major storm. Mayor Carlos Gimenez acknowledged “glitches” in opening the shelters, some of which only became available after dark on Friday with tropical storms arriving the next morning. He cited the Red Cross running out of staff and volunteers in Miami, as well as the National Guard arriving after the county needed troops to help open the shelters. Gimenez dispatched county police officers on Friday to fill in staffing gaps, and praised the school system for its response in the largest storm response in Miami-Dade’s history. The National Guard arrived in force late Friday, county officials said.
Carvalho joined National Guard troops at his press conference, calling them the “heroes” that got shelters running smoothly.
“We had scant support from anyone else, save from the National Guard and our staff,” Carvalho said.
— DOUGLAS HANKS
Flotsam, jetsam and memories
12:30 p.m.: Mary Anne Boyer was walking the battered Coconut Grove waterfront Monday when she spied a Ziploc bag covered in grime. She picked it up for a look. One smiling face after another looked back at her.
“I think it belongs to her, because she is in so many of the pictures,” she said of a woman in a photograph, wearing a wedding gown and standing by an altar with her groom. “We’ll see.”
Boyer was biking with the bag of photos Monday, thinking about next steps. The pictures were in a bag with other seemingly important paperwork that appeared to wash off a boat during Irma. “There’s a mortgage statement from Walnut Street in Grand Cove Springs, Florida,” she said, reading from the soggy paper. “Or is it Green Cove Springs?”
The big clue: an envelope that appears to be addressed to a Jamie Larson at Dinner Key Marina.
Boyer, a professional diver who cleans boat bottoms for a living, said she was glad to secure the mementos that were practically underwater themselves.
“When I saw those photos, they reminded me of mine godmother,” Boyer said. “She lost all her photo albums in Andrew.”
-- Douglas Hanks, firstname.lastname@example.org
Miami officials: Don’t be disaster tourists
12:05 p.m.: When the worst of Hurricane Irma’s winds receded, five city of Miami crews headed out before dawn Monday to begin assessing damage and taking down reports of blocked roadways. In the early going, clearing roads is priority number one, Mayor Tomás Regalado said.
“The roads need to be cleared. We have thousands of trees downed,” he said, perhaps slightly overestimating.
Regardless, there is much to do.
Nearly three out of four in the city are without power, according to Regalado. There are downed power lines, toppled fences, shattered bus benches and breached boats around different pockets of the city. Some 16 crews are out trying to remove uprooted trees and other hazards.
The city is also working with two general contractors to ensure that collapsed construction cranes in downtown and Edgewater are secured and the buildings structurally sound. The cranes, at Vice and Gran Paraiso, snapped during the most intense parts of the storm, though they’re supposedly designed to withstand winds around 145 miles per hour.
“It’s way too early to determine [what happened], but the winds that we have were within the design capacity,” said city building official Maurice Pons.
Commissioner Ken Russell, who represents downtown and Edgewater, said Miami was lucky the storm wasn’t worse.
“Had we had more of a direct hit, certainly more [cranes] would have come down,” he said.
Between the fallen cranes and flooding that so many saw in Brickell and Coconut Grove, scores of people were out with the sun surveying the damage. But City Manager Daniel Alfonso asked people, no matter how stir crazy they may be, to stay inside a little while longer until crews can safely handle hazards liked downed power lines.
“The biggest thing we want our residents to understand is that it’s still dangerous to be out on the streets,” Alfonso said. “It’s best not to have people driving around looking at what’s happening.”
— DAVID SMILEY
Fury at the Keys as residents denied access
12:00 p.m.: Tensions ran high at the entrance to the Florida Keys late Monday morning as families waited in the heat to return home. Some still hadn’t heard from friends and relatives who had stayed behind.
Officials from the Monroe County Sheriffs Office said they were only letting utilities companies and a few contractors from the Department of Transportation pass. But after two unmarked cars went through the checkpoint, Keys residents waiting at a RaceTrac gas station erupted in protest.
“That’s bullshit!” a bearded Keys resident, who refused to give his name, shouted at the police. “Those people are tourists!”
When a deputy sheriff approached him, the man put his hands behind his back and dared the official to arrest him.
“People are dying in there. They’re thirsty, they’re hungry,” he told the official.
“I say we all just get in the car and drive. What are they going to do? Shoot us?” another man yelled to the others waiting at the gas station.
“This stuff right here is the reason why next storm they aren’t going to get people out of the Keys,” said the man, who identified himself as a Cudjoe Key resident but did not want to give his name. “I’ve been in the Keys for 40 years. This is the first time I ever evacuated and it’ll be my last.”
— KYRA GURNEY
Miami-Dade and Broward schools closed indefinitely
11:50 a.m.: Miami-Dade and Broward public schools will remain closed until further notice due to recovery efforts from Hurricane Irma.
Among the reasons, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said at a press conference Monday, is that the schools had to undergo safety inspections.
He also tweeted, “Despite intense weather across Miami-Dade over the weekend, the structural integrity of our schools appears strong. Inspections ongoing.”
— HOWARD COHEN
What’s open and closed after Irma
11:45 a.m.: Some restaurants, stores and supermarkets are beginning to reopen Monday after Hurricane Irma brought heavy winds and flooding to South Florida on Sunday.
— CAITLIN OSTROFF
Florida Keys to public: Stay out
11:30 a.m.: The message was clear from Florida Keys officials Monday morning, the day after Hurricane Irma ransacked the island chain: We’re closed until further notice.
The message was loudest coming from the Southernmost City:
“We cannot support another mouth in Key West,” City General Manager Jim Scholl said on a conference call with other local, state and federal officials Monday morning.
— DAVID GOODHUE
Florida evacuees want to go home — but law enforcement wants roads clear
11:25 a.m.: As a downgraded Irma moved into Georgia Monday, some stranded Florida evacuees were already suffering from cabin fever. They want to go home now — to assess any damage and sleep in their own beds.
Bud and Beth Haidet left Fort Myers last Friday and took refuge at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Tallahassee. They were in a good mood Monday because the coffee kiosk in the hotel lobby was doing a brisk business on a day when all other stores in the capital city were closed.
“We’re ready to get back,” said Bud Haidet, a retired athletic director at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “We have things in the refrigerator and freezer. We left really quickly.”
Beth Haidet said her biggest worry was whether she could get gasoline on Interstate 75 for the more than six-hour drive home.
The Haidets live on a lake. They said their neighbors chose to stay home during the storm and reported only minor damage — two beloved lemon trees were destroyed — but they want to get back and see for themselves.
Even where roads are passable, the state does not yet want evacuees even asking when they can go home.
“We’re telling people it’s a little premature to be asking that question,” said spokeswoman Beth Frady of the Florida Highway Patrol. She urged evacuees to contact their local law enforcement authorities — in the Haidets’ case, the Lee County sheriff’s office — to check on local road conditions.
“We’re trying to encourage people to stay off the roads. Conditions are just now being assessed,” Frady said, noting that I-10 east of I-75 in Lake City was closed in both directions Monday morning because of flooding.
— STEVE BOUSQUET IN TALLAHASSEE
Marlins Park roof takes a hit from Irma
11:20 a.m.: The retractable roof at Marlins Park was designed to survive a hurricane.
It appears to have just done that — only Hurricane Irma still got her licks in.
A portion of the roof at Marlins Park appears to be damaged based off numerous photos circulating on social media.
— GEORGE RICHARDS
Miami, Fort Lauderdale airports still closed
11:15 a.m.: Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport remained closed Monday, as the airports assessed damage.
“Some airlines will fly personnel and crew members to MIA in preparation for flights to resume,” said spokeswoman Karla Cobreiro via a statement. “After a damage assessment today, we will determine if passenger flights can resume on Tuesday.”
Fort Lauderdale Hollywood Airport remains closed and has not issued an update on when it will reopen. Passengers who left their cars in FLL’s parking garages may retrieve them after 10 a.m., when the curfew in Broward County is lifted.
— CHABELI HERRERA
Roof blown off Homestead school
11:05 a.m.: Homestead officials have confirmed that Keys Gate Charter High School lost its roof during Hurricane Irma.
“It completely peeled off,” said Zackery Good, Homestead’s spokesman. Its unclear when the school will be operable.
Homestead Detective Fernando Morales said the city had “a few burglaries and some sporadic looting, but it was nothing out of this world.”
Morales could not specify which businesses were hit and when, but did say one of them was a pawn shop.
Power is now being restored in a city that had gone completely dark. About 90 percent of the city is still without electricity as officials prioritize re-powering Homestead Hospital, police stations, nursing homes and elderly facilities.
As far as blocked roads, the entrances to and from the highway are open. Southeast Eighth Street from U.S.1 to Southeast 12th Avenue is completely flooded, Morales said, and its blocked.
Good said early Saturday that most mobile parks in the Homestead area have been spared.
“We got really lucky,” he said.
Betty Alexander, who waited out the storm in the Goldcoaster mobile home park near Florida City said her home “is a champ” and that the park experienced minimal damage.
— MONIQUE O. MADAN
No injuries reported on Marco Island
11:00 a.m.: Less than 24 hours after Hurricane Irma made landfall on Marco Island as a Category 3 storm Sunday afternoon, firefighters were still assessing damage.
There have been no reports of storm-related injuries or fatalities. “Not that we know of, yet,” said Chris Bowden, a public information officer for the Marco Island Fire Department. “We are still doing welfare checks and things like that,” he said.
On Monday, local officials re-opened locked bridges connecting the barrier island to the Florida mainland just west of Everglades National Park. Marco Island residents were ordered to evacuate on Sept. 8, though some stayed behind.
Bowden said that on first glance, Irma left behind extensive flooding, and lots of downed power lines and trees in most of the roadways.
— DANIEL CHANG
Jacksonville floods but ‘this is not Houston’
10:45 a.m.: With high tide approaching, Jacksonville’s creeks are swelling in the low-lying neighborhoods along the St. John’s River and its tributaries.
But “this is not Houston,’’ said Florida Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Director Nick Wiley, who deployed three reconnaissance teams to survey the area with four-wheel drive vehicles and ATVs.
Jacksonville was hit hard early Monday when Hurricane Irma veered east as it roared up the state and arrived at high tide, and with extra moisture. Wiley said search teams know where to look in the low-lying neighborhoods, mostly along the city’s San Marco, Riverside and Black Creek neighborhoods, and will try to work quickly to determine if anyone appears trapped or in need of assistance in their homes.
The effort is one of several reconnaissance and rescue efforts occurring around the state as Florida begins its recovery from the massive storm.
Opening the ports was the first priority, Wiley said, as well as clearing the waterways for commercial traffic to bring in fuel and supplies. The Florida Highway Patrol cleared the roads into Port Everglades and the Port of Tampa to allow fuel truck to access gas to replenish supplies at gas stations along the evacuation routes.
— MARY ELLEN KLAS IN TALLAHASSEE
Keys residents blocked out as search and rescue continues
10:15 a.m.: Police blocked the entrance to the Florida Keys on Monday morning as they continued to survey damage and conduct search and rescue operations.
At a RaceTrac gas station near the entrance to Card Sound Road, dozens of Keys residents waited to return home. The police told them they didn’t know when they would be allowed to drive south — whether it would be tomorrow or next week or even later.
“We’re anxious, we want to return,” said Marathon resident Ricky Santiago, standing by his car with his family. “We can’t do anything yet.”
Santiago evacuated to South Dade with his mother, siblings and two dogs Friday after it became clear that Hurricane Irma wasn’t going to turn away from the Keys. They waited out the storm at a friend’s house and had been anxiously trying to call neighbors in Marathon to find out what had happened to their home. So far, no answer.
Other Keys residents had been able to get in touch with neighbors and knew their homes had only been slightly battered. They were anxious to get on the road and help friends who hadn’t been so lucky.
“I have friends that need help. I have supplies for them,” said Key Largo resident Tony Gibus. “We’re capable people in the Keys, we don’t need our hands held. ...We’re not tourists.”
Gibus said he was frustrated by the lack of information about when he would be able to return home and thought the police blockade should be farther south to allow the northern Keys residents to pass through.
“No one should be able to keep you out of your home,” he said.
That was a sentiment echoed by many waiting at the gas station. And many, like Gibus, said that after Irma, they wouldn’t evacuate again.
Marc Serota had decided to leave his home in Key Tavernier with his wife and two small children on Friday because he was worried about their safety. But now, waiting in the heat for hours to return home, he said he wouldn’t run when the next hurricane came.
“This is why people don’t leave,” he said. “It’s not because they’re afraid ... it’s because they’re afraid they won’t be able to get back and check on their homes.”
“As long as I have shutters and a generator, with a Category 4 or less I wouldn’t leave again,” he added.
— KYRA GURNEY
Miami Gardens sees light damage
10:10 a.m.: Residents in Miami Gardens made their way outside Monday morning to rake up smaller branches, cut larger ones and clear their yards of debris.
The inland area was mostly spared from storm surge and flooding, but several large trees were uprooted by Irma’s winds, including some that blocked streets.
About a mile away from Hard Rock Stadium, Jesse Martin was working on his truck and looked out at a giant tree that came down in his front yard, along Northwest 12th Avenue near 202nd Street.
He said he was watching through the screen in his front door as the winds picked up and then “Boom! It came down.”
“It was rocking and rocking and then whoomp, it fell,” Martin said.
Martin, 58, has lived in Miami Gardens for about 35 years and said that Hurricane Andrew caused some major damage to his roof and patio so he’s grateful he’s only dealing with trees.
“With this, it was just a little wind. We got lucky,” Martin said.
— LANCE DIXON
People return to downtown Miami
10:00 a.m.: Carlos Castillo pointed his camera and clicked. This wasn’t the Miami he came to see, but he’ll take it.
“The streets are empty. It’s a very strange, beautiful Miami,” he said.
Castillo was walking outside the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts around 8 a.m. Monday as the city slowly came out of a weekend-long slumber. By 9 a.m., cars were on the road and people were everywhere, walking their dogs along Biscayne Boulevard past uprooted trees and navigating streets without working stoplights.
Outside Bayfront Marketplace, large palm trees were downed in some places and street signs toppled, but the Miamarina behind the outdoor shopping center looked almost untouched, despite some damaged storefronts and the new presence of a lawn of seaweed and flotsam and jetsam.
“Irma did her due, said Omar Jackson, who lost power in his condo tower and woke up early to charge his iPhone at an outdoor outlet. “There’s windows blown out, trees all over the place, exposed wires, it looks crazy.”
— DAVID SMILEY
10 dead in Cuba
9:55 a.m.: Cuban civil defense authorities reported 10 deaths in Havana, Matanzas, Camagüey and Ciego de Ávila that resulted from Hurricane Irma’s passage.
They included a 71-year-old-man who fell on a live cable while trying to take down a TV antenna in Havana, a 77-year-old man who was electrocuted in Old Havana after stepping on a fallen electrical line, and two women who were killed when a fourth floor balcony tumbled on to the bus in which they were riding.
Other deaths resulted from collapsed homes and an apparent drowning after the storm surge. Irma hit the northern coast of Cuba as a Category 5 storm.
— MIMI WHITEFIELD
House of Representatives suspending Monday votes
9:50 a.m.: The U.S. House of Representatives will not convene for votes on Monday due to Hurricane Irma.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, made the decision on Sunday as Hurricane Irma moved up Florida’s Gulf Coast.
“Due to the large number of absences as a result of Hurricane Irma, Members are advised that no votes are expected in the House tomorrow, Monday, September 11th,” a release from McCarthy’s office said.
The House is expected to reconvene on Tuesday.
Last week, the majority of Florida’s congressional delegation including Miami Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart missed votes, including a $15 billion hurricane relief package, as they left Washington to prepare for Irma.
The U.S. Senate will convene Monday afternoon.
— ALEX DAUGHERTY
Tornado activity detected near Hard Rock Stadium
9:45 a.m.: As of Monday morning, the Dolphins did not know what, if any, structural damage Hurricane Irma caused to Hard Rock Stadium, and won’t until engineers are able to get into the property and perform an inspection.
“All we have is a visual inspection by camera right now,” a team source told the Miami Herald. “We think the stadium may have experienced some tornado activity based on radar tracking.”
The stadium, with its brand new canopy, is built to withstand Category 4 force winds. Irma’s impact on South Florida didn’t reach that level of intensity.
— ADAM BEASLEY
Still no entry into Key Biscayne
9:30 a.m.: “Re-entry to the village of Key Biscayne is prohibited until further notice,” the village announced Monday morning. A 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. curfew is already in effect. Access to the island was shut down across the Rickenbacker Causeway and Bear Cut Bridge on Saturday.
— NICHOLAS NEHAMAS
When will power and cellphones come back?
9:25 a.m.: On the day after Hurricane Irma, the question everyone wants answered is: When will my power and cellphone service be restored?
The short answer: Your cellphone should be working again relatively soon. But you’ll likely have to wait longer — several days or even longer in some areas — before the light switches in your home are useful again.
As dawn broke on Monday morning, 2 million of the 2.7 million homes and businesses in South Florida had no electricity, according to Florida Power & Light.
— NANCY DAHLBERG AND RENE RODRIGUEZ
Ugly scenes on the waterfront in Coconut Grove
9: 20 a.m.: Coconut Grove’s marinas suffered their worst storm damage in 12 years after Hurricane Irma thrust Biscayne Bay waters well ashore.
The vast majority of boats tied to docks and piers survived. But there were ugly exceptions: Sailboats sent to the bottom at Dinner Key Marina, their masts jutting skyward from the sea. Luxury fishing yachts tossed onto piers and half submerged next to the Monty’s restaurant. A multi-ton cement dock lifted up onto the sea wall at the Grove Harbour Marina.
— DOUGLAS HANKS
Search and rescue starting in flooded Jacksonville
9:15 a.m.: Three Florida Fish and Wildlife search and rescue teams have been deployed to Jacksonville to help evacuate people stranded from record flooding.
The storm surge from Hurricane Irma combined with high tide and rain bands from Hurricane Jose to create conditions for the unprecedented deluge, officials at the Florida Emergency Operations Center said Monday.
— MARY ELLEN KLAS IN TALLAHASSEE
Venetian closure leaves Beach residents with tough choices
9:05 a.m.: As Venetian Islands resident Peter Warner stopped clearing large branches from his yard to clear them off the Venetian Causeway itself, shirtless Nathan Weiss stopped to chat on his way to his Collins Avenue home.
The Miami Beach police blocking off the Venetian forced Weiss to make a hopeful decision: leave his car at the road block at the risk of being towed, walk to his apartment and get his bike. Then, he’d bike back to his car, park it in Miami until Tuesday at noon (when residents will be allowed to return by car to Miami Beach) and bike back to his apartment.
There’s power there. There wasn’t power in the airport-area hotel Weis and his wife, an airline employee, were put up at by her airline.
First thing he’ll do when he gets to his apartment: “Charge my cellphone.”
He also pondered food.
“I’m a vegan,” he laughed. “I won’t just eat any ham sandwich you put in front of me.”
Weiss continued his walk home. Warner continued to clear the Causeway block adjacent to his Rivo Alto home.
— DAVID J. NEAL
Lights are on in downtown Coral Gables
9:00 a.m.: In downtown Coral Gables, amazingly, the electricity was working and street lights were operational. Both police and FPL crews were visible on the roads.
In South Coral Gables, roadways were blocked by tree limbs and and the occasional fallen tree, including one blocking Lejeune Road south of U.S. 1.
U.S. 1 itself appeared clear along the Gables heading into Coconut Grove. Near the Dolphin Expressway, a Latin Cafe on LeJeune was already open for business.
— JANE WOOLDRIDGE
No garbage pickup in Miami Monday
8:55 a.m.: There will be no garbage, recycling or bulky trash pickup in the city of Miami Monday. “All efforts today by the Department of Solid Waste will be dedicated to clearing debris off the roads,” a news release from the city said. “The Mini-Dump Facility located at 1290 NW 20th St. will re-open Tuesday 9/12 at 7 a.m. only for City of Miami Residents (bring identification).”
— NICHOLAS NEHAMAS
Scott warns recovery will take time: ‘Everybody’s got to be patient’
8:40 a.m.: As Gov. Rick Scott departed for an aerial tour of the Keys Monday, he gave a hint as to the extent of the physical damage he will encounter as he surveys the destruction and warned that the recovery won’t be quick.
“Power lines are down throughout the state,’’ he said. “We’ve got roads that are impassable, so everybody’s got to be patient as we work through this.”
He said that for those who have evacuated “it’s going to take some time” before they can return to their homes. The state will need to restore electric lines, put water back on, and make sure roads are passable.
“This is when people make mistakes,’’ he said. “They go around downed power lines. They go where it’s unsafe. We have so much damage now around the state. We’re drawing every resource we can -- locally, the state and federal government.”
He said everyone from the president to the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency are assisting and the ports are working to re-open to replenish fuel supplies.
Meanwhile, as the St. John’s River in Jacksonville reached record levels, search and rescue teams were deployed to save people trapped in the rapidly developing floods.
High tides, combined with the winds of Hurricane Jose, helped swamp Jacksonville with enormous amounts of rain early Monday.
“We’re really concerned to save every life there,’’ Scott said.
— MARY ELLEN KLAS IN TALLAHASSEE
Scott to make an aerial survey of damage in the Keys
8:15 a.m.: As most of Florida woke up in the dark Monday, with power out for 58 percent of the state, Gov. Rick Scott left the state — so he could fly to the Keys to conduct and aerial survey of Irma’s destruction.
The governor traveled to Pensacola late Sunday and Monday planned to drive to Mobile, Ala., where a Coast Guard plane would take him to the Keys to view the damage where Irma first hit the state, said Scott spokesperson John Tupps.
It was not immediately available if he would be landing in Marathon or Boca Chica, the two Keys airports open Monday.
Scott began the day doing rounds on the morning shows on television networks.
Florida Emergency Management Director Bryan Koon briefed members of the state’s emergency operations staff. “Let’s figure out where the worst parts are,’’ he said.
The governor’s communications staff maintained his Twitter feed from the Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee throughout the night. They urged people to be careful of storm surge.
“The combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause normally dry areas near the coast to be flooded,’’ one Tweet read at 4:06 a.m. “DO NOT GO IN. The water will surge back & could overtake you,’’ read another.
— MARY ELLEN KLAS IN TALLAHASSEE
Irma downgraded to tropical storm
8:00 a.m.: After battering its way up Florida’s Gulf Coast, Hurricane Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm Monday morning. It was expected to cross into Georgia in the afternoon, leaving potentially dangerous storm surges in its wake.
By 8 a.m. Monday, Irma was about 105 miles north of Tampa, with sustained winds of 70 miles an hour. A storm surge warning was discontinued from Flagler and Volusia counties south to Jupiter inlet, but a flash flood warning remains in effect for downtown Jacksonville.
“This is a particularly dangerous situation,” a National Weather Service alert warned. “Water is expected to rise another 1 to 2 feet when winds switch to the south and push water northward into downtown — and the high tide begins to come into the river. Move to higher ground now. This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation.”
— CAROL ROSENBERG AND NICHOLAS NEHAMAS
Traffic lights out in Kendall
7:55 a.m.: In West Kendall, Southwest 88th Street was mostly clear of debris, but traffic lights were out and fallen branches blocked access to some side streets and avenues. One giant tree sprawled across 137th Ave. on the north side of Kendall Drive and rendered the street impassable.
Law enforcement has asked motorists to treat inoperable traffic lights as four-way stops. That means each driver should come to a full and complete stop and check traffic in all directions before proceeding.
— RENE RODRIGUEZ
Relief in Manatee County
7:30 a.m.: Manatee County appears to have been spared the brunt of Hurricane Irma’s wrath based on first assessments by first respondents.
“We had one team of beach paramedics do a predawn assessment in West Bradenton,” county spokesman Nicholas Azzara said.
Another small first-in team went around to other parts of the county.
“There is very little damage around Manatee County,” Azzarra said.
Some downed power lines were spotted and down trees, however, and additional first-in teams will not be going out until dawn.
“We won’t know more until daybreak,” Azzara said.
Signs of power on Anna Maria Island were observed at a distance, he said, but first responders did not go out onto the island.
— JESSICA DE LEON
Daylight will reveal how bad Irma was
7:20 a.m.: Inescapable Irma, the hurricane that for a week tormented the entirety of the Florida peninsula unlike any storm that came before it, will finally find its way out of the state Monday.
She will leave behind destruction from Key West to probably Tallahassee. And yet the storm will also be remembered for what it wasn’t: In the end, Irma was not the feared Category 5 catastrophe she could have been, though the extent of her damage is still unknown. The dual-coast storm has already been blamed for five deaths.
Overnight, the Category 2 storm pushed into western Florida further south than expected, sparing vulnerable Tampa Bay from the worst of the surging Gulf of Mexico waters. By 2 a.m., it was a Category 1 inland storm moving northeast toward Orlando from Tampa. By 5 a.m., it was about to be downgraded to a tropical storm.
— PATRICIA MAZZEI
What happened to the tiny Key deer?
7:15 a.m.: The federally protected Key deer were exposed to Hurricane Irma and authorities will assess their situation when it’s safe to return to the Keys.
Dan Clark superintendent of the National Key Deer Refuge, said his first priority as the massive storm approached was to evacuate National Wildlife Refuge personnel assigned to the area.
“After we receive information from Monroe County that it is safe to return and we can inhabit the Lower Keys, a post-storm assessment of our facilities and residences will be conducted to determine if we can operate,” Clark said.
— DAVID GOODHUE
Curfew declared in the Keys
7:10 a.m.: Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay has declared a curfew in the Florida Keys between dusk and dawn after devastating Hurricane Irma swept through the island chain.
The curfew is indefinite while damage from heavy winds and flooding is assessed. Meanwhile, no one is allowed into the Keys. Early reports indicated impassable roads and destroyed homes, especially where the damage was worst in the Upper and Middle Keys. “Anyone out after the designates times is subject to arrest,” said a statement released by the sheriff’s office Sunday night. “This curfew is necessary due to the unsafe conditions throughout Monroe County and for security.”
“We don’t have a comprehensive insight into what the damage is,” Florida Director of Emergency Management Bryan Koon said late Sunday. “We will work on those at first light. I don’t have any numbers on fatalities at this point.”
— NICHOLAS NEHAMAS
Shopping cart rack on street
7 a.m.: On Sunset Drive and Southwest 92nd Avenue, railroad crossing gates were snapped and lying across the median as the lights flashed, as if a train was coming.
Nearby, a shopping cart return rack from the Winn-Dixie on 8710 SW 72nd St. was draped across the roadway on Sunset Drive.
Along the northbound lanes of SW 87th Ave., fallen trees completely blocked the roadways on SW 52nd, 12th Street and 4th streets.
At major intersections along SW 87th Ave., Miami-Dade police cars, lights flashing, helped guide traffic where street lights were out.
— ADRIAN RUHI
From Doral to West Kendall
6:30 a.m.: A drive from West Kendall from Doral was largely clear on the major roads, including 826, though several side streets were blocked by fallen trees and debris. Some were large enough to be impassable. Power was also still out in several neighborhoods.
A drive back to West Kendall from Doral was largely clear on the major roads, including 826 and SW 27th Avenue, though several side streets were blocked by fallen trees and debris. Some were large enough to be impassable to one reporter’s car while heading home. Power was also still out in several neighborhoods.
— RENE RODRIGUEZ