Hurricane Irma made landfall on most of Florida Sunday, pummeling the state with high-speed winds, heavy rains, dangerous storm surge levels and leaving millions of Floridians without power as the weekend drew to a close.
Wind speeds thrashed parts of the state at up to 130 mph. Irma, which made landfall as a Category 4 storm in the Florida Keys before making a second landfall in Marco Island as a Category 3 storm, then weakening to a Category 2 storm.
Irma is expected to lose its hurricane status by Monday.
Irma, which made landfall Sunday morning, assaulted the West Coast of Florida, hitting the Tampa-St. Petersburg area Sunday evening.
The slow-moving but massive storm was expected to continue its northward trek, weakening further before hitting the northern portion of the state.
With a width of 400 miles, Irma downed cranes in Miami, caused high storm surge of over 10 feet in the Keys and knocked out power for millions of Floridians before the night was over.
Curfews were implemented statewide, with some counties banning anyone from entering and exiting county lines except for emergency responders.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri restricted all access into Pinellas County beginning immediately after the storm, with restricted access planned until damage assessments were complete.
Sheriff’s offices and fire rescue stations stopped responding to emergency calls as the storm began to roll in Sunday evening.
President Donald Trump made a Major Disaster Declaration on Sunday, ordering federal aid to help Florida as it recovers from the powerful storm.
With a disaster declaration, residents and businesses can apply for federal grants for home repairs and temporary housing as well as other programs. The federal government will also cover counties’ evacuation, sheltering costs and the cost of debris removal.
Trump said he believed Irma would end up costing “a lot of money,” but said he wasn’t concerned about the price of recovery at the moment.
"Right now, we're worried about lives, not cost," Trump said.
Gov. Rick Scott pledged Florida would do whatever it could to help Floridians recuperate from the storm.
“As Hurricane Irma makes landfall in Florida, we are fully committed to providing every resource to Floridians for response and recovery,” Scott said Sunday. “We will spare no expense to save lives and help Floridians. We’ve worked aggressively all week to prepare for this powerful storm and keep people safe, but we have a long road ahead.”
The National Hurricane Center warned of storm surges of five to eight feet in the Tampa Bay area, which is home to over 3 million people.
Looters also began to break into stores, with nine people arrested after breaking into a pawn shop in Ft. Lauderdale on Sunday.
No direct deaths in Florida from the storm had been reported at the time of this article’s release, but the storm claimed the lives of 24 people in the Caribbean as of Sunday evening.