Hurricane Irma

Another hurricane, another health care horror story.

At least that's how it looked when eight patients died at a nursing home in Hollywood, Florida. The facility lost its air conditioning several days after Hurricane Irma struck.

That event conjured memories of the scores of elderly who died in Louisiana hospitals and nursing homes following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

It's been one week since Hurricane Irma hit Southwestern Florida. Residents in Collier County, where the storm made landfall after the Florida keys, are in the early stages of the recovery process still cleaning up debris, wading through floodwaters, struggling to get gas, and trying to get by without electricity. It will take months to fully assess the damage, and the rebuilding process could take years. Yet already they are looking ahead to the next steps. They are figuring out how to continue with their lives amidst the devastation.

Immokalee, Fla.

Hurricane Irma arrived on the doorstep of the Virgin Islands just over a week ago. A Category 5 storm, historic in its terrible might, Irma shredded homes and hotels into the bare materials that made them, its winds scattering floorboards and roofs and light poles like so many matchsticks.

Updated at 6:55 p.m. ET

Eight people have died after a Florida nursing home and long-term-care facility apparently lost air conditioning in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, and police have launched a criminal investigation into the incident.

In the Florida Keys this week, some residents were able to get back to their homes and assess the damage from Hurricane Irma along with those who stayed.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says in its preliminary assessment that some 25 percent of the homes in the Keys were destroyed and only 10 percent escaped without major damage.

It's hot and dim inside this Comfort Inn just off the interstate in Fort Myers, Fla. The power has been off for two days, ever since the heart of Hurricane Irma passed right over the city.

But Dorothea Brown seems right at ease as she flips through a newspaper in the lobby.

In fact, she says the hotel is her "second home when we have to evacuate." Brown lives at a mobile home and RV park right along the Orange River, so evacuations are a part of life. She and her family and her neighbors have a routine.

"Every time there's a storm, we come here," she says.

When the worst of Irma's fury had passed, Gene McAvoy hit the road to inspect citrus groves and vegetable fields. McAvoy is a specialist on vegetable farming at the University of Florida's extension office in the town of LaBelle, in the middle of one of the country's biggest concentrations of vegetable and citrus farms.

It took a direct hit from the storm. "The eyewall came right over our main production area," McAvoy says.

Now that Hurricane Irma has left Florida, gasoline supplies are slowly coming back into the state. But thousands of gas stations remain closed anyway.

That's because with electricity out throughout the peninsula, even stations that have access to gas have no way to get it into people's vehicles.

"Power is the issue. Most of these gas stations don't have backup generation that can allow the pumps to work," says John Kilduff, founding partner of Again Capital, an energy investment firm.

Roughly half of Florida's homes and businesses remained without electricity on Tuesday, two days after Hurricane Irma plowed through the state. A lot of the business recovery efforts there will depend on how quickly power can be restored.

On her way to work Tuesday morning, Carol McDaniel, vice president of human resources for the Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, made her way through darkened neighborhoods.

Some residents of Key Largo are being allowed back in Tuesday morning, but the Florida Keys are still largely without power, water, medical service and cell service. Most Keys residents are anxiously waiting to hear when they can return home, and others who stayed despite mandatory evacuations remain stranded there. More than 80 percent of customers in the Keys are currently are without power.

Hurricane Irma was the longest-lasting powerful hurricane or typhoon ever recorded, worldwide.

Irma sustained its 185-mph winds for 37 hours – "the longest any cyclone around the globe has maintained that intensity on record," according to Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University. The previous record was held by Typhoon Haiyan, also called Super Typhoon Yolanda, which hit the Philippines in 2013.

Updated at 7:30 p.m. ET

More than 6.5 million Florida homes and businesses are now without power after Hurricane Irma moved through the state, according to the state's emergency management division. That's 64 percent of the state's power customers, and there are several counties where 80-90 percent of customers are without power.

Updated at 11:50 p.m. ET

Irma, once a powerful and longrunning hurricane, weakened to a tropical depression as it moved through Georgia on its way to Alabama. It continues to dump heavy rain but all surge warnings have been canceled.

Irma has left behind dangerous floodwaters, power outages for millions of people and the debris it has made of human possessions across Florida.

The huge storm remained a Category 1 hurricane through early Monday, before finally being downgraded to a tropical storm and then a tropical depression.

Snacks? Check. Bottled water? Check. Orion capsule?

Check.

At the Kennedy Space Center, in Cape Canaveral, Fla., 120 people settled in to wait out Hurricane Irma and oversee some of the nation's premier space technology. That includes the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle capsule. The four-person spacecraft — now in development — is intended to carry astronauts to the moon and beyond.

Hurricane Irma's punishing winds and life-threatening storm surge have already left an imprint, and there is more catastrophic damage expected to come as Irma takes a projected path up Florida's west coast.

Updated at 5 a.m. ET Monday

Irma has weakened since beginning its push up central Florida, but is still a Category 1 hurricane with winds near 75 mph and higher gusts, according to the National Hurricane Center. Its center is about 60 miles north of Tampa and continues to move along the northwest coast of the Florida peninsula. The NHC says Irma is expected to weaken to a tropical storm this morning and tropical depression by Tuesday afternoon.

As Hurricane Irma takes aim at Florida's west coast, some residents are tracking its trajectory from safer cities hours away from the projected path. Some are listening to the winds from shelters not far from their homes. But others are riding it out right underneath the storm.

The state of Florida ordered more than 6.5 million residents to evacuate large swaths of the southern part of the state and the Keys, underscoring Irma's enormous size and its deadly force, which already tore apart several Caribbean islands.

Updated at 2:23 a.m. ET on Sunday

After battering Cuba on Saturday morning, the eye of Hurricane Irma has its sights set on Florida as a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center early Sunday. The NHC's latest forecast shows the storm's center shifting west from Miami, and even Tampa, to target St. Petersburg.

Florida braces for direct hit

Carlos Calvillo and more than 70 other members of the Los Angeles Fire Department were on their way home when they got the call.

After almost two exhausting weeks of water rescues, home inspections and cleanup in flood-ravaged southeastern Texas, as part of a FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Force, they were getting deployed again — this time ahead of Hurricane Irma.

Updated at 6 a.m. ET Saturday

Hurricane Irma is again a Category 4 storm as it slowly moves along the Cuban coast. The storm made landfall on the Camaguey archipelago of Cuba late Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center. As of 5 a.m. Saturday, the hurricane's center was just off the northern coast near central Cuba. The report puts Irma's traveling speed at 12 mph, about 245 miles south-southeast of Miami.

About 5.6 million people in Florida have been ordered to evacuate; forecasters expect the hurricane to hit Florida early Sunday morning.

As Florida drivers hit the road to escape Hurricane Irma, the demand for gasoline has outpaced supply, leaving filling stations throughout the state short of fuel.

"It's horrible, man," said Aaron Izquierdo, who waited in a long line of cars at a Shell station in Doral on Friday. "Just yesterday I was in line for two hours to wait for gas, and by the time we got to the pump there was no gas."

Where will it go? How strong will it be? When will it hit? Those are the answers everyone wants — not the least of which are the hurricane forecasters themselves.

To get those answers, hundreds of millions of data points — everything from wind speeds to sea temperatures — pouring in from satellites, aircraft, balloons, buoys and ground stations are fed into the world's fastest computers and programmed with a variety of models at different resolutions, some looking at the big picture, others zooming in much closer.

Even before Hurricane Irma arrived at Florida's doorstep scammers geared into action.

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.

Eugene Johnson purchased two loaves of bread and batteries for his flashlight. Those are his supplies in preparation for Hurricane Irma.

"I'm on fixed income," said Johnson. "This hit me out of the blue. I had to pay my rent, my electricity bill and stuff like that."

In his kitchen cabinet he already had a few cans of tuna and he plans to boil some eggs.

Updated at 10:45 a.m. ET

The disaster relief bill given final approval by Congress on Friday can't come too soon for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Without a new injection of funds, officials said FEMA's cash box would be empty as early as this weekend, right around the time that Hurricane Irma is scheduled to slam into southern Florida, while southeast Texas and Louisiana are still drying out from Hurricane Harvey.

Tell Us Your Irma Story

Sep 7, 2017

Editor's note: Thanks for the outpouring of responses! We have closed this callout, but will continue to cover Irma's aftermath, particularly in our Two-Way blog, in the weeks and months to come. We couldn't do it without our readers and listeners.

NPR has reporters in Florida and beyond to bring you the latest news about Hurricane Irma.

Updated at 8 a.m. ET Friday

Irma is one of the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricanes ever recorded, and its wind speeds remain about 150 miles per hour, with stronger gusts. As this monster churns through the Caribbean and heads toward Florida, here is the lowdown.

How dangerous is it?

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