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News

Hundreds of people are housed in a large room with computer monitors and giant TV screens lining the walls overhead. Lots of people are on computers, and even more are walking around wearing navy emergency response team shirts. It’s a calm but busy Friday afternoon at the State Emergency Operations Center.

The center in Tallahassee is at its highest activation: Level 1

Key West has seen a lot of hurricanes over the years — but the island itself hasn't had a direct hit since 1919 (though there were a couple of near misses, with Hurricane Georges moving across the Lower Keys in 1998 and Wilma swamping the island from the west in 2005).

Some islanders attribute that string to the supernatural - the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto.

Irma? There's an app for that.

Officials are encouraging South Florida residents to download smartphone apps for last-minute storm prep and to keep updated during the hurricane and its aftermath.

Among the suggested apps:

Florida Power and Light app: To monitor power outages

Florida 511: For real-time traffic updates

Gas Buddy: Shows gas stations and prices based on location

Hillsborough County

As Hurricane Irma approaches, authorities are encouraging residents to know whether they live in an evacuation zone, so they know when it’s time to leave.

Hurricane Irma, which battered the Caribbean with winds up to 185 mph, has its sights on Florida with winds now around 150 mph. according to the National Hurricane Center.

Those are really strong winds. Imagine speeding down the highway at 70 miles an hour with your car window open. You stick your hand out and hold it in the wind.

Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Irma has strengthened back into a Category 5 storm, as officials warned more than 5 million people that time was running out Friday and ordered them to evacuate ahead of the deadly hurricane as it followed a path that could take it from one end of the state to the other.

Forecasters also extended hurricane and storm surge warnings and watches farther north to the Anclote River, including Tampa Bay.

Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

Hurricane Irma's projected path is becoming clearer and state leaders are urging Floridians to prepare for the worst.

Evacuation orders have been issued and shelters are opening.  

Here's a list of shelters, evacuation zones and other need-to-know information as Hurricane Irma approaches: 

SHELTERS

Pinellas County

For a list of Pinellas County Shelters, click here.

Hillsborough County

Daylina Miller/WUSF News

Pasco County is the first in the Tampa Bay region to open a space at a hurricane shelter for registered sex offenders.

Sheriff Chris Nocco said they'll be given space at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel.

tampaairport.com

Airlines are adding last-minute flights out of Florida after people snapped up seats to escape Hurricane Irma.

Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

For an entire generation in South Florida, Hurricane Andrew was the monster storm that reshaped a region. Irma is likely to blow that out of the water.

Daylina Miller/WUSF News

Hurricane Irma's full impact on the Tampa Bay is still not clear, but a Pasco County group wants to make sure the homeless stay safe, too.

Raine Johns runs the Coalition for the Homeless in Pasco County. She and a group of volunteers canvassed the county this week to let homeless individuals and families know what their hurricane shelter options are.

Insurers Prepare For Irma’s Aftermath

Sep 8, 2017

Insurance companies are prepared to meet Floridians' needs after Hurricane Irma, state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier said Thursday.

FP&L Gears Up For Possible ‘Widespread’ Destruction

Sep 8, 2017
elineart / Flickr

Florida Power & Light, the state's largest electric utility, said Thursday more than 11,000 employees and contractors will be available to restore power after Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Irma is hovering somewhere between being the most- and second-most powerful hurricane recorded in the Atlantic. It follows Harvey, which dumped trillions of gallons of water on South Texas. And now, Hurricane Jose is falling into step behind Irma, and gathering strength.

Is this what climate change scientists predicted?

In a word, yes. Climate scientists such as Michael Mann at Penn State says, "The science is now fairly clear that climate change will make stronger storms stronger." Or wetter.

As Hurricane Irma works its way to Florida's coast, feelings of stress and anxiety may also be brewing for those anticipating its effects.

A national hotline wants to help you.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline is available for immediate counseling to anyone affected by the impending hurricane and storms in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida is deriding the Polk County Sheriff’s decision to check IDs for all evacuees seeking shelter in his county.

The Florida Highway Patrol says low pay and high turnover aren’t hamstringing  Hurricane Irma response. But a union official says it shouldn’t take a mass evacuation to remind lawmakers of the value of the FHP.

Empty shelves typically stocked with water are cropping up on many Floridians’ social media feeds.  But one state official says the run on water is more panic than real peril.

The former head of the National Hurricane Center has some last minute tips for Floridians preparing for Irma.

White Nationalist Could Speak Oct. 19 At UF

Sep 8, 2017

After rejecting a request by white nationalist Richard Spencer to speak on campus and being threatened with a federal lawsuit, the University of Florida has set a tentative Oct. 19 date for an appearance by the “alt-right” leader.

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