Florida Sen. Bill Nelson: 'FEMA's going to be stretched' by Irma

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson: 'FEMA's going to be stretched' by Irma

After battering its way up Florida's Gulf Coast and downgraded to a Category 1, Hurricane Irma was expected to cross into Georgia on Monday afternoon as a tropical storm, leaving potentially risky storm surges in its wake.

Almost two-thirds of Florida's 20 million residents were without power Monday after Tropical Storm Irma cut a destructive path through the state before churning north into Georgia.

One of Florida's primary public utility companies said Saturday that it is preparing to deal with the largest number of power outages in USA history.

By 5 p.m., the storm was hitting Fort Myers, moving north toward low-lying, vulnerable Tampa as a still-potent Category 2 storm.

"On the forecast track, the centre of Irma will continue to move over the western Florida peninsula through Monday morning and then into the south-eastern United States late Monday and Tuesday".

The storm's impact was widespread. The Atlanta area's forecast predicts sustained winds over 40 miles per hour, which can cause downed trees and power outages.

With about 3 million people, the Tampa Bay metropolitan area is the second-most populous in the state.

After crossing the eastern Florida Panhandle, the storm will cross into southwestern Georgia and eastern Alabama on Monday night and Tuesday, the agency said.

Gov. Rick Scott requested a major disaster declaration from President Donald Trump "to help bring important federal resources and aid to Florida" once Irma passes, he said.

Florida Power & Light, which provides power to an estimated 4.9 million accounts across the state, had about 3.6 million outages as of Monday morning, according to S&P Global Platts.

Irma's first USA landfall in the Florida Keys was tied for 7th.

As Irma moves inland, more than 45 million people will face tropical storm conditions.

More than 116,000 were reported to have taken refuge in some 530 shelters across Florida, The Washington Post and other news outlets reported. But the storm won't have much moisture or strength left by the time it gets here, according to the National Weather Service.

But some state residents planned to ride out the storm in their homes.

This is the first year on record that the continental United States has had two Category 4 hurricane landfalls in the same year.

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