Hurricane Irma's violent winds and outer rain bands lashed the Florida Keys on Saturday as the Category 3 storm pushed toward the state amid dire warnings of devastating gales, heavy rain and life-threatening storm surge.
The cities of Naples, Fort Myers and the densely populated peninsulas of Tampa Bay on Florida's west coast were in the crosshairs of the historic storm, which was churning slowly northwest at eight miles per hour.
Nearly the entire state of Florida is under a hurricane warning affecting at least 36 million people, with concerns of devastating gales, heavy rain and life-threatening storm surge.
Irma was a Category 5 storm when it battered Cuba but was downgraded after hitting Florida.
In downtown Miami, two of the two dozen construction cranes looming over the skyline collapsed in the wind.
Buckhorn said areas along the Tampa Bay shoreline could expect a risky storm surge anywhere from three to eight feet, adding that it would depend on where Irma went.
The National Weather Service in Atlanta issued a tropical storm watch for the area Monday and Tuesday.
"I'll make a decision based on how I can be helpful to the state", he said.
In a press release, Scott said, "It's clear that the entire country is standing with Florida as Hurricane Irma batters our state right now".
"You've just got to have plenty of beer, Captain Morgan, vodka, (and) you'll get through", said Griffin, 52.
Those who did not evacuate ahead of the storm are in danger, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long said Saturday. In streets carpeted with fresh green seaweed as the water receded, people said it was the strongest cyclone ever to hit the town.
At least 25 people have been killed since Irma began its march through the Caribbean, smashing through a string of islands from tiny Barbuda on Wednesday, to the tropical paradises of St Barts and St Martin, the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the Turks and Caicos.
Tonight, Irma was still centered about 110 miles southeast of Key West. "I couldn't sleep. I'm scared of hurricanes and this is the worst I have been through", she said.
The clean-up has now begun in Cuba, as the deadly storm heads on to the US.
Ngai plans to crouch in the bathtub when it makes landfall.
"Eye of Irma beginning to move slowly away from the coast of Cuba while weather is deteriorating in south Florida", where the hurricane is headed, the U.S. National Hurricane Center reported. "We're hoping for the best - we've bought nonperishable foods and water, and we have a flashlight".
There's also a chance that coastal areas of Gorgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, will be affected by Irma.
Forecasters said Irma could cause widespread damage in the state from storm surge near Savannah to toppled trees and power lines far inland in Atlanta. Officials in Miami-Dade and Broward counties in Florida are ordering evacuations of certain residents in low-lying areas. Schools in the state planned to close Monday. After Irma rakes Florida's west coast, it may keep moving north across Georgia and Alabama.