Despite Irma’s downgraded intensity as it moves further inland into the United States, its impact escalated at a steady pace nonetheless. Fortunately, lengthy preparations well in advance managed to mitigate the probability of more extensive damage.
Here’s what we know:
Current Storm Status:
- While Irma has weakened to a tropical storm, it’s still packing winds of up to 97 kph and now covers six states: Alabama, North and South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee
- Winds and heavy rains have prompted storm surge warnings as sea levels may be expected to rise up to 2.7m high.
- Contrary to initial forecasts that projected Irma would make its way up the East Coast, the storm took a critical turn once it hit the Florida Keys and is now moving westward along the Florida coast.
Operational/Supply Chain Impacts:
- Ports and terminals in Miami, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Port Everglades and Jacksonville were closed to traffic on Sunday, September 10.
- ExxonMobil and Kinder Morgan similarly shut down pipelines and fuel terminals in response to Irma’s arrival.
- As of Monday, September 11, around 60% of Florida state has been affected by power outages. At least two-thirds of gas stations across the state are reportedly out of fuel, following evacuations that took place over the weekend.
- Power outages were reported across South Carolina in Charleston, Colleton, Beaufort, and Jasper counties. Hurricane and flash flood watches, as well as tropical storm and storm surge warnings remain in place. A tornado watch was also issued for the midlands, and will remain in effect until 23:00 local time (03:00 UTC, September 13) on Tuesday, September 12.
- Operations at the Port of Charleston were suspended on Monday September 11, from 14:00 local time (18:00 UTC), but are expected to resume on Tuesday morning. An inland port in Greer is also set to be shut on Tuesday, September 12 from 13:00 to 17:00 local time (17:00 to 21:00 UTC).
- Charleston International Airport reported that most airlines have canceled flights slated for Monday, September 1.
- Atlanta, Georgia was placed under its first-ever tropical storm warning ahead of the Irma’s arrival. A state of emergency was also declared across all 159 counties, prompting business closures and the suspension of all bus, rail, and road transportation for Monday, September 11. According to reports, roughly 11% of gas stations are also short of fuel.
- In Alabama, businesses and schools were closed on Monday, September 11, while approximately 12,000 power outages were reported in the state’s southeastern portion.
- Delta Airlines has canceled an estimated 900 flights out of its Atlanta operations hub due to strong crosswinds.
- United Airlines and other carriers have completely shut down across Florida state.
- The storm caused a nationwide power outage in Cuba, as well as widespread flooding, killing at least 10. Irma has also damaged the international airport, among other structures.
- Tropical Storm Irma is forecast to bring up to 15 inches of rain to southern Georgia and the northern Florida peninsula, while other areas may see anywhere between three and 10 inches.
- The National Hurricane Service (NHS) has predicted that the storm will hit northwestern Georgia between Monday night, September 11, and Tuesday morning, September 12.
- While hurricane force winds are expected to continue, the storm is likely to weaken into a tropical depression on Tuesday, September 12.
- Federal funding has been granted in order to reimburse Florida’s state government and local communities affected by the storm. Over 30,000 additional personnel are currently working towards restoring power.
- Florida is also set to be provided with enough utility generators through Tuesday, September 26 as part of No Action Assurance.
- The US Navy has deployed the USS Lincoln to Key West in order to provide emergency services, three more vessels are currently en route to the same location. The National Guard has also been tasked with aiding relief, search, and rescue operations.
- An estimated 4,600 American troops are assisting relief efforts in the Virgin Islands-Puerto Rico region.
- A number of logistics non-profits, such as Airlink and Global DIRT Disaster, are working in cooperation with United States government offices in response to Irma in the US Virgin Islands.
- In the Caribbean, two Royal Navy ships have been tasked with delivering relief supplies. Britain has reportedly pledged US $42M in funds towards assistance and have already sent 10 aid flights since Friday, September 8.
- The French are set to deploy one military ship to its territories to be used as a “floating hospital,” carrying supplies and additional helicopters.
- Corporate donations have also been made in response to Irma, with companies like Apple, Home Depot, Target, Walmart, and Verizon making generous contributions.