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Endangered Key Deer Gets Stuck in Doritos Bag

Endangered Key Deer Gets Stuck in Doritos Bag

One deer’s midnight snack took a wrong turn.

Early Sunday morning, two Florida officers found an endangered Key deer caught up in its bag of chips.

At the National Key Deer Refuge in Big Pine Key, Fla., feeding the Key deer is strictly prohibited.

Which perhaps suggests why one Key deer sought to discover the true crunch of Doritos on its own, then proceeded to get its head stuck in the bag.

Early Sunday morning, two Florida deputies spotted the endangered deer on the side of the road, trapped in a Doritos bag. Before assisting the poor thing, Deputy Joshua Gordon snapped a picture on his cellphone.

“It must have wanted that last chip in the bottom of the bag,” Deputy Becky Herrin told the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Judging by the color of the bag, it seemed to be the Doritos DINAMITA Chile Limon Rolled Flavored Tortilla Chips that grabbed the deer's attention.

The deer fully cooperated with the officers approaching it and removing the bag, then it immediately scampered away. It probably won’t experiment with processed snacks anytime soon.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Key deer count is down to approximately 800.

Maybe it is safer when the humans just feed the animals.


Three new exhibitions open at Studios of Key West

Three new exhibitions open this month at The Studios of Key West. “Deer Humans,” a mixed media exhibition in the Sanger Gallery by Lisa D. Watson, shines a light on endangered Key deer and their fragile natural habitat Conch artists who have been inspired by folk art legend Mario Sanchez present a collection of work in the XOJ Gallery and “Legalized Love,” mixed media portraits of contemporary LGBT families by artist David Genest, opens in the Zabar Project Gallery.

When artist Lisa D. Watson first visited the Keys in 2018 and learned about Key deer she took their plight to heart, creating an art series from recycled materials that depicts Florida’s native deer and wildscapes.

“The earth’s endangered animals and ecosystems don’t have a voice, so as an artist, I want to tell their story,” said Watson. “I named the show ‘Deer Humans’ because, in a way, this work is meant to be a series of love letters asking humans to please pay attention before they are gone.”

In the XOJ Gallery, The Studios celebrates Key West woodcarver Mario Sanchez’s legacy as seen through the work of Keys’ artists with an exhibition entitled “Living Traditions: The School of Mario Sanchez.” Considered one of the most significant Cuban American folk artists of the 20th century, Sanchez has inspired scores of artists born and raised in the Florida Keys. Made possible by the Tom Majors Fund, the exhibition brings together work by some of Key West’s most prominent Conch artists, including Wayne Garcia, Andy Thurber, Ronny Bailey, Garth Holtkamp, Daniel Soldano, Mario Suarez, Pattie Kemp and Jorge Marrero.

“Legalized Love,” portraits of contemporary LGBT families painted by artist David Genest, will be on view in the Zabar Project Gallery. Genest has been refining his technique as a portrait artist for nearly 10 years and lately he’s turned his attention to depicting the quiet, “everyday yet extraordinary” moments in LGBT family life. Genest will discuss his work during a free half-hour artist talk on Tuesday, March 24, at 5:30 p.m. at The Studios.

“Grass” by Lisa D. Watson, damaged photo copies, adhesive, acrylic paint on salvaged panel.

All three exhibitions will remain on view through March 26. The Studios of Key West is located at 533 Eaton St. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Find more information at www.tskw.org .


Seas of Grass

with its outstretched wings, for whom the trail is named. Along the trail you can commonly see this bird either swimming in the water hunting after fish or else sunning themselves with its wings stretched out to absorb the sun. Besides this bird there are a great many other types of birds that can be found through the half mile
trail, many of which have names that can hardly be pronounced. The trail is also, perhaps not surprisingly, famous for its resident population of alligators which can be seen by the hundreds along the banks. Because of these two diverse forms of life, the trail in turn attracts 2 diverse groups of people. There are your families and elderly folk who have come to the Everglades for the first time to see

the alligators and there are the bird watchers: camera people, toting along giant tripods or standing at a single spot for hours hoping to capture an elusive bird in its natural environment. Katie and I fall somewhere in between. Though we were excited about seeing alligators again, we ended up spending the majority of our time looking for rare birds, as the alligators weren't too much fun to look at after the initial shock of seeing them wore off. As we started on the trail the first thing we saw was a giant alligator laying directly over the path! We were pretty thrilled about this, and took this opportunity to get as close as we could to this sleeping giant. After that, we mainly focused on the birds, apart from a few alligators swimming in the waters and one that we think might have been a little insane as he
kept ducking underwater and springing up to unleash his deadly bite onto a tree branch. We saw a great number of birds and even saw a few of the rarest, helped out here and there by our tripod wielding friends. A couple hours later, after finishing our trip around the Anhinga Trail, we began to make our trek south toward Flamingo, the southernmost headquarters of the Park. This is the only spot within the

Everglades, or the US for that matter, where you can see the American Crocodile in its natural habitat. We have been told that Everglades National Park is also the only place in the world where you can see both alligators and crocodiles coexist side by side. In Flamingo we signed up for a 2 hour boat ride that again took us into the depths of the mangrove forest. This time the journey would be the focal point, not
the destination. Our lust to see the American Crocodile was instantly gratified almost as soon as we pulled away from shore. We saw several, even one with its mouth held menacingly open. After this excitement, the rest of the trip was relatively tame. After the crocodile, we saw several birds but only ones that we had seen earlier and closer along the Anhinga Trail. The only difference was now, with a tour guide in tow, we got to hear all about the various birds whether we wanted to or not. Our guide also educated us about how dangerous the forest and the surrounding ecosystem truly was than we were previously aware. He told us about the many native poisonous snakes and the newly introduced python that was rapidly taking over. He even told us about the Manchineel tree, a tree so deadly that one drop of its sap will burn a hole straight through a human arm. Katie was most intrigued by this tree and half heartedly wanted to touch it, but when the guide informed us that by even touching a leaf, human skin would blister and form lesions, she thought better of it. After our tour we headed back toward the crossroads of our southern Florida trip, Homestead, glad to say we had one avenue explored and behind us. It had been a couple days since leaving Aunt Chris' house and I personally was ready for a shower. Unlike the mild temperatures of the north, this southern sun radiated heat which caused a constant sweat, this added to the layers of sun screen that were necessary in order for my fair skin not to fry under it, created a bitter recipe which meant we had to shower. Back at our crossroads, we searched around for the cheapest hotel and indulged in a clean, refreshing night.

Bridge Fishing the Keys With My Nephews 7-2-2011

After a long time of saying I will go fishing with my nephew’s (from my wife’s side) we finally came up with a day to go bridge fishing, Friday July 2 nd , not such a great day since normally the 4 th of July weekend is full of people rushing to the Florida Keys to have fun in the sun and water to celebrate this great country’s independence. Well, they had great expectations of this trip as they have seeing many pictures and heard great fishing stories from the Florida Keys, only one of them had gone fishing with me before and that was to Channel #2 on a Memorial day weekend that was a nightmare to drive to and from the Keys, but was a great day of fishing to catch and release sharks and keep some dinner snappers.

The only fishing experience they had were some previous bass fishing. I set them up with the basic rigs. I decided: Knocker rigs and troll rights with jig loop knots should be the best choice. They were fast learners and had it good after 2 hours of fishing, WOW! That was quick!. I worked hard on getting them on a fish, no matter what it was, but absolutely wanted to get them on at least one quality fish. Expecting many fishermen and fisherwomen to come to the bridge that weekend I thought that it would be best to scheduled our trip to be on the bridge at a time in which most bridges are empty. All bridges in the Florida Keys are good and you can catch many species of fish from them but in this task I had to bring them to a place where they didn’t have to drive so much, walk so much, and catch some keeper snappers for dinner and at least one quality fish to keep them interested.

The time went on and we discovered that we were surrounded by alien looking like creatures that kept on giving us the finger, but as you can imagine they were scared of these creatures, and what is the first thought? Get rid of them or they might bite us! LAND CRABS all over! There were dozens of them at a time. One of the family members I brought was a peanut that had the courage to try and grab one and guess what? OUCH I GOT PINCHED. They all panicked and started pushing them back to sea. I had to watch them and constantly tell them they were creatures that were more scared of us than us of them. The crabs were appearing claw less and come to find out there was a group of people hopping bridges looking for their claws, locals that knew what was going on.

Now the fishing report: The weather was great, no rain (which I wanted some) the water was not clear and this was great, the current was not ripping when we got there and almost seemed slack to a point until it changed to incoming which is when all the action started with the clouds gathering and the winds picking up a bit.

Well, the fishing story/ report got too long so let’s go back to the report, this time with pics:

The peanut got his first fish ever and a keeper 12.5” snapper, which he told the story on how he caught it and fought it for the whole night and ride back home, LOL

The oldest nephew got his first fish, one hell of a Hog Snapper!

My nephew’s brother-in-law got a bonnet head that he didn’t want to touch, LOL

I was able to get a nice size permit

One of my nephew’s went home blank so I still owe him another trip. My other nephew also had no luck on this trip but he had come bridge fishing with me before and caught some nice lemon sharks and snappers. All in all it was a successful and very nice bridge fishing trip. I just have to find the time when they all can get off work at the same time again to go fishing with them again.


It's Not the Outcome We Wanted - Hurricane Irma

Blairsville, Ga (high 72, low 58)

We have been enjoying the very fall like temperatures here in north Georgia with a cooler than normal September. We have had several mornings with temps as low as 42 degrees! That is about to change soon, as we get ready to head to they Keys and the heat and humidity.

As I posted on the past few blogs, we have been trying to figure the status of the Fifth Wheel. Last winter we had it towed down as a permanent winter home in the Florida Keys. Irma made landfall (ground zero) as a Cat 4 hurricane with winds of 140 mph, right on our little island paradise of Cudjoe Key.

Most everyone in the Keys heeded the mandatory evacuation. A few people stayed, some even rode it out on boats. I can't imagine why anyone would want to ride out a Cat 4 or 5 hurricane on a small island in the Keys, but some surely did.

The hurricane knocked out all the power, cell service, sewer, water and of course communications. For days we have all been forming Facebook groups for each area with the goal of locating "missing" people who stayed, finding out how our property fared, and when we can go back. It has been a frantic search for information.

I was asked why we can't just call the owners of our community for the status. We are the "owners" and none of us know anything except the few people who stayed and they have no way to communicate. Most of the police and first responders even evacuated. This was a BIG deal for the Keys and people took it very, very seriously, as they should have. No one that knows anything has any way to notify anyone about damages or missing people. People are frantically trying to check on missing friends and family who stayed for the hurricane.

Something I didn't know but now assume it is available for any disaster like this, is that NOAA flies planes overhead filming the area of the disaster afterwards, giving people and governments information about damages. They filmed the entire 100 + miles of the Florida Keys, starting in Key West and all the way up to Key Largo. It took three days and of course, our section was last for some reason. There were many news teams coming in and filming areas. Cudjoe Key (the island) and Venture Out (our resort community) was filmed many times, but they never quite got to our house, so we really didn't know the status or our boat and fifth wheel.

Not knowing turned out to be very stressful. We spent hours each day perusing all the FB groups, news organizations looking for video, tv channels and word of mouth. I found a lot of info and pictures of Venture Out, just nothing definitive on our property.

Last night while on our nightly golf cart ride searching for bears, we found our answer and it wasn't good.


We initially had been sure the fifth wheel was completely destroyed, but then we started seeing pictures of rv's that were still standing and looked to be fine. It allowed us to get a bit of hope.

Here is the link for the NOAA after hurricane pictures. It really is kind of interesting

NOAA Florida Keys after Irma You click on the area in black, zoom and make sure it's set to Map Box Street under layers.

The fifth wheel is in the middle, sitting at an angle. The problem with the location of our lot is that the only thing between us and the open water is a single row of high rises houses (on stilts) and an empty rv lot on the water. There was absolutely NO wind block. It was nice on those hot afternoons because we almost always had a wonderful breeze.


May 1994

Welcome!

Iguana new home

That skinking feeling

It's frog and toad time

English toads get great press (from cars and newspapers). The newest piece is from Wisley, England [via the Memphis, TN Commercial Appeal, March 13, 1994 from Bill Burnett] which interviews Mike Durant, co-founder of the Surrey Wildlife Protection Group, who helps toads cross roads: "You just need a bucket, a strong torch (flashlight to us Yanks) and to be very fast and dodge the traffic. You can get some very irate drivers. A toad will only come back to where it's born. A toad will not go anywhere else to spawn." As croaking toads inside his bucket try to climb atop one another, Durant continues: "These noises. males are trying to mate with males and they tend to dislike it. I think it's a noise to say `I'm not a female, I'm a male.'" Durant measures his crew's success in squashed toads. They have collected squished toads every year from Surrey County, southwest of London. Two years ago they got 111, last year 58, and this year 25. Durant has been helping toads for eleven years. He concluded, ". at night, the cars are squashing them. It's a terrible life, isn't it?"

In the U.S. it's citizens versus toads in St. Mary's County Maryland. The citizens want a wider road I think the eastern narrowmouth toads would prefer none. Gastrophryne carolinensis is listed as an endangered species in that state, but a Democratic delegate said that he feels the county's goal of widening and straightening nearly four miles of road outweighs the importance of the toad. In addition, no one's seen the species in that part of the county since 1986. [The Baltimore, MD Evening Sun, March 16, 1994 from Mark T. Witwer] CHS member Alan Resetar was quoted in an article in the Hammond, IN Post-Tribune [March 31, 1994 from Jack Schoenfelder] about frogs: "Their throat and calling muscles are 10 times stronger than an Olympic athlete's leg muscles. Male peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) peep up to a quarter of a million times without resting or stopping to eat. Resetar added that some Hoosiers used to believe that only brown-eyed people could see western chorus frogs (Pseudacris triseriata) a belief perhaps prompted by that species crypic coloration. Resetar added: "These frogs are part of our natural heritage. They were part of the original fauna of the area and were here before the first settlers arrived. They hang on in spite of pollution and the draining of wetlands."

Recent reports that ozone is the prime cause in amphibian declines are being disputed by some biologists, who contend that more than one factor is likely at work in the disappearances. Andrew R. Blaustein of Oregon State University said, "We know that it can't be as simple as ultraviolet radiation because some of the species that are declining lay their eggs in shaded waters. There's gotta be other causes." Worldwide amphibian decline was noted at the First World Congress of Herpetology at Canterbury in 1989. Since then researchers have been trying to determine the mechanism of the declines. Blaustein recently published an article which implicates the fungus, Saprolegnia, that commonly infects hatchery raised fish in the decline of a species of toad. Blaustein pointed out that the fungus has turned up worldwide and that a banned fungicide was previously used to control it. [Las Vegas Review-Journal/Sun, April 10, 1994 from Bob Pierson]

An emerald smile

What price conservation?

The long standing land use controversy between land developers and the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) in and around Las Vegas has heated up to just about the boiling point as witnessed by the following articles all from the Las Vegas Review-Journal sent by regular contributor Bob Pierson.

Headline March 30 "Killing of desert tortoises called cheaper than captivity." "The last-resort euthanasia option, while allowable under a Fish and Wildlife Service permit, has been characterized by Commissioner Don Schlesinger, as an unacceptable scheme concocted by bureaucrats. A cost-analysis of the options, by Regional Environmental Consultants of San Diego, CA shows euthanasia the cheapest at $44 per tortoise. Maintaining them in pens at a conservation center would cost $854 per tortoise, or possibly more than $11 million over 20 years. Relocating them in Southern Nevada would cost about $750 per tortoise. The euthanasia option, which could involve killing many of some 14,000 displaced tortoises over the next 20 years, was backed by developers and a state wildlife biologist, who said he fears relocating urban-area tortoises inflicted with a respiratory disease could hasten the infection among wild populations. Betty Burge, a wildlife biologist who is chairwoman of the nonprofit Tortoise Group organization, said her group's policy is to view displaced tortoises as `a special resource that should be used for conservation-related purposes such as translocation and research that increases our understanding of the species.' Jim Moore, representing The Nature Conservancy. said . `We believe euthanasia will undermine the plan. Requirement for adoption should be relaxed to promote adoption.' Keith Rogers, Staff Writer" April 5 "The government has not `come up' with the Desert Tortoise Habitat Conservation Plan. A committee of citizens who represent all segments of the community interested in the tortoise and the use of its habitat, has volunteered hundreds and hundreds of hours of time developing a plan that considers all viable alternatives. Ann Schreiber." [Letters to the editor, April 8]

"Five hundred dollars. That's what I paid to Clark County so they could come to my construction site and do a tortoise study and remove any tortoises to a safe location. Never mind the fact that someone with even a one-digit IQ could handle the job. Never mind the fact that if I had started construction and without paying the fee, and accidentally killed a tortoise, I would be on the receiving end of some pretty unpleasant legal ramifications. Never mind the fact that millions of dollars have already been embezzled by county government under the guise of protecting tortoises. I spent $500 to protect tortoises, and when I read that the people I gave the money to are killing tortoises, you'll have to pardon me if I want to screw off the tops of their heads and take out their brains and put them all together and see if it makes one. Edward J. Finley." [Letters to the editor, April 8]

". I am the last one to defend that law [the Endangered Species Act]. I have said in public many times that I do not believe the tortoise is threatened and I disagree completely with what the federal government is forcing us to do. What people do not realize is that, in fact, the community is asking for a federal permit to `take' (which means to harm, harass or potentially kill) desert tortoises so that progress on projects like regional and neighborhood parks, schools, flood control, roads, sewer lines, and water lines can continue. We could just tell them [the tortoises] to `run for their lives,' but that is not an acceptable solution under the federal law. In exchange for this permit, we have to provide for their preservation on land that is not planned for development and is more likely to remain in its natural state forever. That is what the federal law says. People might remember the chaos in 1989 when the desert tortoise was first listed under the ESA. Home building, school construction, and public works projects all came to a screeching halt. and infrastructure development was slowed such that critically needed services were put on hold. The state of Nevada, the city of Las Vegas, and the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association sued the federal government. [and lost]. Everyone involved in the lawsuit agreed that Clark County should facilitate a solution allowed by the law. A committee of citizens crafted the Habitat Conservation Plan we are living with now. The steering committee is open to any member of the public and includes environmentalist, recreationists, off-road vehicle enthusiasts, pet owners, home builders, biologists, ranchers and miners. The government approved that plan. It is important for people to know that no taxpayer dollars have been spent preserving the desert tortoise. The costs of this plan are paid by those who benefit from it - developers pay a fee of $550 per acre in exchange for the ability to remove desert tortoises from the property. In a sense, it's a true impact fee because it's a real example of growth paying for growth. There is a lot of irony involved in this issue. There are no easy answers and it will take courage and leadership to support a solution that is based in fact and our understanding of all the intertwined issues. Paul J. Christensen. Clark County Commissioner. [Letters to the editor, April 19]

"So a few hundred will have to go if the rest are to be saved. Now, let's see if I have this right: We kill them with earth-movers and the like, then decide there aren't enough of them in the region and fret over their existence, then devote millions in the name of preservation, then kill them when the cost is too great. I wonder if the desert tortoise is confused yet. I know I am. No developer has yet embraced the idea of giving one free tortoise to each new homebuyer. John L. Smith, columnist" April 1

"I have worked at the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center, building pens and taking care of tortoises. The center was never intended to be a permanent solution it is a storehouse and a place to conduct research in an effort to save the Vegas Valley's growing dislocated population of tortoises. The center is not filled to capacity, as only about a quarter of the land already acquired is being used for the pens, and it has been estimated there are no more than a couple thousand wild tortoises left in the valley. As for funding the facility, the money should already be in the bank for this purpose that is why developers pay fees to build on tortoise habitat. There should be millions available by now (I have heard between $8 and $10 million). I have heard that the county no longer wishes to be responsible for operating the center and wants out. Just what does the county intend to do with the millions of dollars already raised from development fees, if it does not intend to fund the conservation center as the money was intended to do? Randall D. Watkins." [Letters to the editor, April 8]

Personally, I wonder. Has any of these people, agencies, governments, etc. ever considered just selling desert tortoises? I bet they could get $200-300 a pop from pet keepers or collectors. Glue on a permit like they already do and make money on the deal. Couldn't be any worse than killing them, could it?

For people unclear on the concept

Thanks to everyone who contributed this month,


DRY TORTUGAS OCTOBER 21ST TO OCTOBER 23RD 2011

Here is part of the report and story as I remember it.

Since it was constant fishing, short resting periods, lots of rigging, plenty bait cutting, etc… the order of the events may have changed in my mind. I also tried to see what everyone in this trip was experiencing but focused a lot more on my fishing.

THE FISHING TRIP: OCTOBER 21ST TO OCTOBER 23RD 2011

Aboard the “Lauren Jeanne” with Captain Yuri Vakselis

The Spot : Dry Tortugas, Florida

Weather : cloudy, winds of 10 to 15 knots

Water: Cloudy sand mix noticeable

Fish catches : Amberjack, Jack Crevalles, Mutton Snappers, Yellow Tail, Snappers, Many kinds of Groupers, King Mackerels, Cero Mackerels, 1 small Blackfin Tuna. Horse Eye Jack, Bonita, and football sized Blue Runners

Biggest size Type : Amberjacks weight : around 50 to 60lbs… Muttons 16.2 lbs … Yellow Tail Snapper 5 lbs, Red Grouper around 16lbs…Kingfish mackerel around 28lbs

Techniques : Jigging, dead and live bait

Jigs : Knife Jigs 100-250 gram, Diamond jigs 100 gram, Red hawks jgs…Pink, red/white, silver, and blue worked the most.

THE PLANNING: After many emails and PM’s a year ago we decided to take one of those famous Tortugas fishing trips with Captain Yuri. It took many emails throughout the year to get in accord as to what gear we were all going to bring and some got together to order lead and vertical jigs so we could get discounts. Rods were made, reels were bought, and many lists came and went. We picked a moon that would not create so much pull and would result in weaker currents. We hit the jackpot as the current was minimal.

CLOSE CALL TO A NO GO: As many know that week almost got thrashed by a developing low pressure system that canceled many other trips on different boats, but fortunately for us a mild cold slowed down the low down and in the words of Captain Greg “it stabilized itself”. I think we almost became mini meteorologists, and oceanographers, LOL…. The good thing is that the bad weather created a nice environment for a feeding frenzy (so we think). The ocean was a bit dirty from the previous low pressure system and passing weak cold front. What a great time to fish!

Getting ready and loaded to the max.

THE BAIT: It was known that it is imperative that we take all kinds of oily baits to the Dry Tortugas but it was pretty hard to gather bait before the trip, at times we all tried to go out at some point and got drenched in water doing so. We collected a few runners, macks, and jacks. We decided to stop trying and to catch bait on the day of the trip. On the way up we did the norm, stopped at Jacks and got some fresh ballyhoos and some threadfins (in case we went to a wreck), we then passed by the Yellow Bait house in hopes for some frozen gogs but they had none, we passes by Atlantic fisheries and loaded on fish dip and slab of frozen gogs (BINGO! They had them!). We tried for cudas and other baits at channel 2 but these were on the other side of the driving bridge so we moved on, we passed by 7 mile bridge and found nothing there. We then went to get some pins that “SOMEONE” though was useless but I insisted and they caved in. After Rory netted the pins and Ricky, Nelson, and myself got a few of the bigger ones (Rob was the vigilante taking care of our gear), Rory got some sardines that were in the mix and Rory said “why not throw another cast?”. And so he did and got some more. We took the white bait just in case. We were more confident and went to the boat and met Jorge, kewl guy. Nice to meet you and fish with you man.

THE FIRST DAY, FRIDAY:

THE RIDE OUT: Since on Thursday the weather was a little strong the plans were to go to the Fort and start fishing in the morning but we got to the boat early and Yuri decided we had a good window to go out right away so we left about an hour early and started fishing just before midnight. The ride was a little rough when we hit Rebecca’s Shoal and the waves according to the captain were about 5 to 7 feet. To me it felt like much more as I saw some higher waves that surpassed my head level (maybe it was the motion sickness that started to kick in due to my age, LOL)…

FISHING STARTED: All we needed was 3 ounces to get to the bottom but I chose 5 ounces for my mutton rod and 8 ounces for my grouper rods to be used with large baits ( I did target them on every stop). Others chose 6 ounces and even 8 ounces to get to the bottom quicker. Since the water was murky I stuck with 50lb leader most of the time and when the bite slowed down or the fish got bigger and the sun was out I switched to 50 pound fluorocarbon at times switching to 40 pound leader. After the water was chummed up the muttons started chewing within an hour of us being there. The bite was great from the get go. Two of the crew went to bed while the rest continued fishing. The first night was all about the muttons while a few sharks came by and collected their Tortugas tax. We started with a variety of baits pinfish, cut blue runners, and George had fresh gogs that he used and kindly shared some with us. We caught some muffins and some decent pinks but the bite slowed down. I then took out my little spinner with a 60 gram vertical jig and got a blue runner so George and I cut it and got more decent size pinkies with the strips we cut. So we kept every blue runner we caught after that. Other baits were used and just about everything that hit the water got chewed on. Also I think Rob tried the Lucanos and Jorge tried the Aki jig for a bit. The yellow tails were very aggressive and so we got many of them most were over 20 inches. I got one that was 26 inches (5 pounds), so I kept it.

THE VERTICAL JIGGING GOT STARTED: Early morning. I started jigging and got a football sized blackfin tuna, then came a couple of jack crevalles, and I had a nice fight on the Saltist 4500 I tighten the drag all the way and the hook pulled. Jorge started jigging as well and ended with another nice jack crevalle that was released. (We only kept one for bait). I then tried again with the looser drag (about 18 pounds), and then the trouble maker got hooked, SEA DONKEY! Rory and I were on. I spent quiet a while to pull mines in and Rory pulled his sea donkey in a bit easier since he had that huge 18K. We did not want to waste space in the cooler because we saw that the bite was kind of hot on the muttons. And each of those donkeys filled a 150 quart cooler with no problem. After the donkeys the bite slowed down and we moved to another spot. Rob got hooked on the Lucanos a few time the aki jig did not. The rest of the day was red groupers on live and butterflied “PINFISH” and we also got some nice flag yellow tails. I believe that Rob and Rory were using the white bait for those. We looked for the box of squid but could not find it, then realized we left it in one of the trucks. Jorge, Rob, Rory, and Ricky jigged the most. They pick a few nice and some short muttons and groupers. I only jigged when the bite slowed down.

THE SECOND DAY, SATURDAY:

It went by as we continued to try the jigging and baiting until we figured that we need to drop the jigs first before any bait and that was the ticket to some nice groupers and muttons. I got one of the biggest muttons of the trip on a vertical jig while Jorge got another two and Rory got a nice one as well. We were taking the pics when Nelson got hit on bait and pulled the other biggest mutton, both were 16.2 pounds on a digital scale. Rob kept on trying the Lucanos with Rick and both got nice red groupers and short ones as well. Rob got a real nice hit but his tiny Lucanos jig hook broke. Rory and Jorge continued with other muttons on the jig while I was using bait. We spent the entire day moving from stop to stop and we picked at the fish with the jigs on every first few drops. We would run to be the first ones to drop the jigs or bait, we had a small competition to see who got the most muttons and the biggest mutton, LOL….Ricky got creative and found a new secret bait, ended with a nice size pinky and I tried it as well with a much smaller cut bait and it worked. Then Nelson got creative and used a second hand bait that a red grouper had spit and BANG! He got hit on it but it was a short red grouper. The day went by and Ricky got a nice hit when all of a sudden his line felt like he was pulling dead weight, his nice size black got cut in half by a shark ?

This night we had the famous Yuri fish dinner and let me tell you it was all that people talk abound and then some. It was some great fish. I understand now how Robert started eating fish.

Jorge and Rob kept picking at the pinkies while we all slept I between naps. They got some live gogs and played with the kings for a bit. We ended with 3. Jorge had a massive hit that he could not stop. I went to be after that.

THE THIRD DAY SUNDAY:

It was the shark and kingfish saga! Every mutton or yellow tail would turn into a toothy critter (well it happened all trip long but it was more often as on this day). Nelson was the only one awake all night and he caught up with catching muttons I had a nice black grouper that cost me three tries to get it out of the whole when I felt my line vibrate, a king cut my sinker off when I had the fish a good 20 feet from the surface. Lesson learned: Spray paint my shiny leads in the future… We kept on fishing for yellow tails to see if we got some flags we ended catching some in the 24 inch range. Nelson, Jorge, and Rob kept on picking at the muttons while most of us were trying for more groupers and then they joined us as well. The morning slowed down and was time to go so we had to rearrange all coolers and drink all drinks since we had run out of fish space. The smorgasbord followed with Ricky eating his first Hot pocket ever, LMAO. He kept hearing hot pocket this hot pocket that until finally he had one.

BACK ON LAND! We unloaded and carpeted the floor with our catch, started to get ready to load all our stuff when we went to check the truck I opened it and Rory and I got hit by a MASSIVE! Nasty smell of the squid that was left on my cast net in the truck bed (the net still dipped in fabric freshener! LOL Well my truck stinks a mile away, I have to park in the far corner of the lot, LOL…Some got their fish cleane for 30 bucks an hour. I regret not doing so! I just finished cleaning mines a few hours ago and what a mess I have in my back yard. My neighbors are going to love the smell tomorrow afternoon, LMAO.

Well that’s the end of some of the stories/report here are some more pics for those that skipped all the mumbo jumbo I wrote, LOL!

On our way to No Name Key for more bait gathering we spotted an endangered Key Deer. They are very small deer due to the small size of the islands and are losing their habitat.

The rest of the story in pictures

The final tally as given by the 6 fishermen was:

  • 11 muttons… (biggest at 16.2 lbs)
  • 3 reds
  • 1 scamp
  • 2 tails in the 18in range
  • 1 cero mackerel
  • Limit on muttons…(biggest at over 15 lbs)
  • 6 red grouper, plus one released
  • 2 big kings
  • 1 big jack crevalle
  • And countless yellow tails released
  • 16 muttons…(biggest at over 15 lbs)
  • 2 red grouper
  • 1 gag grouper
  • 2 king fish
  • 1 big Amber jack
  • 1 cero mackarel
  • And countless Tails released, kept two 24 inchers
  • Limit on muttons….(biggest at over 12 lbs)
  • 1 Big Mangrove snapper
  • 4 big porgies
  • 2 kings
  • 3 red Groupers
  • Over 10 yellow tail flags and countless more released
  • 16 muttons (biggest at 15 lbs 15 oz)
  • 6 groupers + 1 devoured by sharks,1 gag grouper,1/2 black grouper (had to pay the mafia in grey suit….) ,1 strawberry,1 rock hind, red groupers
  • 1 porgy
  • 2 kings
  • 4 tails over 20″ (biggest at 24″)
  • 1 5′ lemon
  • 1 spotted moray eel
  • countless smaller tails and smaller sharks

Herbert (Cudaman):

  • Limit on muttons, over 4 released (biggest at 16.2 lbs)
  • Over 15 yellow tails released one at 26″ kept, one at 24″ kept
  • 2 black groupers
  • 4 red groupers, plus about 4 red groupers released
  • 1 football size blackfin tuna
  • 1 big amberjack….several small ones
  • 2 kings
  • 3 cero mackerel
  • 2 jack crevales over 12 pounds, kept one for bait because of gaft on head
  • 1 small Almaco jack released
  • 1 horse eye jack released

A variety of other groupers were caught and released by just about all the anglers on board. A total of about 160 fish kept and many, many released.

The biggest muttons caught were at 16.2 pounds by Herbert (cudaman) and one of same weight by Nilson (rare).

The most muttons caught by Herbert (Cudaman) and by Robert (WhoDey)

Jigging worked best at first drop

Dead bait worked better by switching to different baits as often as the bite slowed down.


October 6 – Cape Town, South Africa

The flight from JFK to Amsterdam on Delta in Comfort+ was nice. A bit more leg room, upgraded entertainment and liquor. Still – 7 hrs is a long flight. We arrived 20 minutes early at 5:40 AM in Amsterdam for our four hour layover.

The KLM flight was delayed in boarding by nearly 90 minutes with NO explanation as to why the plane that had been sitting at the gate simply went away and an hour later another appeared. By the time we boarded and were settled we’d made friends with our seatmate. A woman named Erica, South African, who had lived in Vancouver for nearly 30 years. Eight years ago she and her husband moved back to the Cape Town area. Ilise and I were invited to be guests in her home for a few nights closer to the weekend. First reaction – WOW South African’s are super friendly.

By the time we landed in Cape Town it was nearly 11 PM and we’d been fed about four full meals during our almost 12 hour flight. We were tired and forked over the 70 rand for the four minute ride to the Road Lodge on the airport exit road.

We checked in. Brushed our teeth, showered, and crawled in bed. It felt soooo good to stretch out and finally get full horizontal.

After breakfast we packed up our bags and walked back to the airport car rental to pick up our Avis rental car. I guess I drew the short straw and I was selected to drive us to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. I had Gregg load the South Africa OSM maps on a very very old Garmin Nuvi. Plugged it in and headed out …remember to KEEP LEFT. Did I mention a five day rental came to less than $150 total?

Photos are taking 10 minutes each to load – so go look at: October 6 photo album to see photos from today.

I mastered the driving and within a few minutes we arrived at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Suggestion: don’t both with the 5 rand for the map. Ginger and Mark told us when we met with them that they’d gone from the gardens up the Skeleton Gorge to Smuts Track. Although we left our backpacks, snacks, and most of our water in the car we soon found ourselves on the trail to Skeleton Gorge … and up the gorge, and I mean literally – as in hiking up the waterfall which was convenient to fill Ilise’s press filter water bottle – up the gorge we went. Thousands of steps up later there were these steep ladders … up we went, which for me with my fear of heights is something – and then, there we were … on a white, deep sand dune thousands of feet above Cape Town, on Table Mountain at the reservoirs.

Rather than face going back down the slippery, stream and gorge, and the ladders we opted for the switchback thousands, and thousands of steps down the Nursery Ravine trail. Our knees held up and our legs started to get wobbly as we reached the bottom and the gardens.

Erica, our seat mate on the plane, had given us the name of one of her friends who runs a guest house. We asked at the information desk at the gardens if they could place a call for us as neither of us bought an international calling plan. Turns out that Long Cottage was fully booked. As we were looking at places to stay down toward Simon’s Bay a woman and her young son came to the information desk to purchase a park pass. She overhead us and piped up that one of her son’s schoolmate’s Mum’s ran an upscale guest house in Simon’s Town and she offered to ring Amanda to see if she had a room for the night. Amanda’s cell phone message indicated she was on holiday out of the country. But she didn’t give up … instead, she called the guest house, explained that she was Nikki, a friend of Amanda’s and she had two friends (literally she’d known us less than 1 minute at that point) who needed to place to stay for the night and was there an open room, at a discount, because Amanda’s child was in Thomas’s class at school. The guest house manager said she’d call Amanda on her cell phone and call Nikki right back. And a few minutes later we had a 1900 luxury suite at the Simon’s Town Guest House for 1200 rand! She jotted down the address and off we went.

Did I mention that my GPS doesn’t have street details? How hard would it be to find? And off we set for Simon’s Town, down the M4 we headed just before rush hour at about 4:30 PM.

We arrived in Simon’s Town and pulled over by the police station to ask a uniformed officer walking out for directions. He didn’t know Bennett Close, but offered to go inside and find out where it was and then take us there. Really? 5 PM the guy is obviously just getting off work. Sure enough. He comes back out, says to follow him and he gets into a police paddy wagon and leads us back north towards Fish Hoek. At some point it because obvious he doesn’t know exactly where it is. We stop and he asks someone. She doesn’t know where it is either. He persists. Finds it on his phone and says it’s 1.6 km away. He gets us really close and then reports his phone has died but it’s got to be one street above where we are. We thank him VERY much for all his help and he leaves. There are two young women walking about eight small dogs. They just moved in and don’t know where it is. We ask two older women walking five VERY large dogs. Yes! Just go one street up and follow the B & B signs.

Seriously – South Africans have GOT to be the MOST friendly and helpful, kind and gracious folks in the world.

We checked into the honeymoon suite, walked down the very steep hill for dinner at Dixie’s and are about ready to call it a night. I’m about to go soak in huge tub and sleep very well tonight.

Good night from Simon’s Town.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

It's Not the Outcome We Wanted - Hurricane Irma

Blairsville, Ga (high 72, low 58)

We have been enjoying the very fall like temperatures here in north Georgia with a cooler than normal September. We have had several mornings with temps as low as 42 degrees! That is about to change soon, as we get ready to head to they Keys and the heat and humidity.

As I posted on the past few blogs, we have been trying to figure the status of the Fifth Wheel. Last winter we had it towed down as a permanent winter home in the Florida Keys. Irma made landfall (ground zero) as a Cat 4 hurricane with winds of 140 mph, right on our little island paradise of Cudjoe Key.

Most everyone in the Keys heeded the mandatory evacuation. A few people stayed, some even rode it out on boats. I can't imagine why anyone would want to ride out a Cat 4 or 5 hurricane on a small island in the Keys, but some surely did.

The hurricane knocked out all the power, cell service, sewer, water and of course communications. For days we have all been forming Facebook groups for each area with the goal of locating "missing" people who stayed, finding out how our property fared, and when we can go back. It has been a frantic search for information.

I was asked why we can't just call the owners of our community for the status. We are the "owners" and none of us know anything except the few people who stayed and they have no way to communicate. Most of the police and first responders even evacuated. This was a BIG deal for the Keys and people took it very, very seriously, as they should have. No one that knows anything has any way to notify anyone about damages or missing people. People are frantically trying to check on missing friends and family who stayed for the hurricane.

Something I didn't know but now assume it is available for any disaster like this, is that NOAA flies planes overhead filming the area of the disaster afterwards, giving people and governments information about damages. They filmed the entire 100 + miles of the Florida Keys, starting in Key West and all the way up to Key Largo. It took three days and of course, our section was last for some reason. There were many news teams coming in and filming areas. Cudjoe Key (the island) and Venture Out (our resort community) was filmed many times, but they never quite got to our house, so we really didn't know the status or our boat and fifth wheel.

Not knowing turned out to be very stressful. We spent hours each day perusing all the FB groups, news organizations looking for video, tv channels and word of mouth. I found a lot of info and pictures of Venture Out, just nothing definitive on our property.

Last night while on our nightly golf cart ride searching for bears, we found our answer and it wasn't good.


We initially had been sure the fifth wheel was completely destroyed, but then we started seeing pictures of rv's that were still standing and looked to be fine. It allowed us to get a bit of hope.

Here is the link for the NOAA after hurricane pictures. It really is kind of interesting

NOAA Florida Keys after Irma You click on the area in black, zoom and make sure it's set to Map Box Street under layers.

The fifth wheel is in the middle, sitting at an angle. The problem with the location of our lot is that the only thing between us and the open water is a single row of high rises houses (on stilts) and an empty rv lot on the water. There was absolutely NO wind block. It was nice on those hot afternoons because we almost always had a wonderful breeze.


All of Beer

If youre one of the few people that bought a Keurig Kold, the news of its discontinuation may have come as a surprise.

But now just one question remains: What are you going to do with that clunky machine when you run out of Kold pods?

Keurig Kold competitor SodaStream doesnt want Kolds users, well, left out in the cold. Shortly after Keurig announced the discontinuation of cold-beverage maker, SodaStream stepped in and said it would be offering a new sparkling water maker to any Kold owner who snaps a selfie of themselves with the machine. Its really that easy.

According to a spokeswoman for the company, owners of the discontinued Kold machines should e-mail a photo of themselves with the machine and their name, address, phone number and their Kold machines serial number to [email protected]

SodaStream will send out a promotional code that can be redeemed at www.sodastreamusa.com for a free Fountain Jet machine (which retails for $79.99)you only have cover shipping and handling costs.

Unlike Keurig machines, SodaStream doesnt use pods, instead users create beverages from soda and fruit-flavored concentrateswhich the company says is better for the environment, and better for consumers wallets.

In a press release, SodaStream’s North American president Doug Pritchard took a few digs at Keurig, saying his company was inviting “disappointed Kold users to enjoy fresh sparkling water at home every day.” Pritchard also reiterated that SodaStream “offers an environmentally friendly and economical solution that we’re certain these people will enjoy for many years to come.”

Critics have derided the Kold machines high cost-– it retailed for between $299 and $369.99– with drink pods costing between $1.12 and $1.25. One bottle of SodaStream concentrate retails for $6.99 and makes at least 36 servings, depending on how much product you use.

The Fountain Jet, however, won’t make a Coke-branded product, but popular soda flavors like ginger ale, root beer, black cherry cola and a variety of fruit flavors are available.

The Latest on Hurricane Irma

St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on Hurricane Irma (all times local):

The National Hurricane Center says the core of Irma is now nearing Tampa in an area south of Lakeland — a community inland and to the east of the heavily populated Tampa Bay region.

A hurricane center update at midnight said Irma remained a Category 2 hurricane with top sustained winds of 100 mph (155 kph) and was located about 25 miles (35 kilometers) south of Lakeland.

The storm is moving north at 14 mph (22 kph).

Hurricane Irma remains a dangerous Category 2 hurricane despite weakening a bit more to 100 mph (160 kph). It's now bearing down on the Tampa-St. Petersburg region.

The National Hurricane Center said Irma's eye was about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southeast of Tampa near 11 p.m. Sunday and moving at a fast clip of 14 mph (22 kph). Still a large hurricane, its tropical storm force winds extend out 415 miles (665 kilometers).

Forecasters say they expert Irma's center to stay inland over Florida and then move into Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee.

They also expect Irma to weaken further into a tropical storm over far northern Florida or southern Georgia on Monday as it speeds up its forward motion. The hurricane center says the storm is still life-threatening with dangerous storm surge, wind and heavy rains.

A third construction crane has toppled in Florida in the powerful winds of Hurricane Irma.

Officials say it happened at a project on Fort Lauderdale beach during the storm Sunday.

Officials with developer The Related Group told the Sun-Sentinel the crane collapse caused no injuries and did not appear to damage anything else.

Two other cranes toppled earlier in Miami as Irma swirled up the state.

Miami International Airport has announced it will be closed Monday and begin only limited flights on Tuesday.

Orlando International Airport closed Saturday and won't reopen to passenger traffic until after Hurricane Irma has passed, a damage assessment has been completed, necessary recovery efforts made and the airlines are consulted to determine when best to resume operations.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport says on its website it has no timetable yet to reopen. Its last flights were Friday.

Tampa International Airport also is closed as Hurricane Irma moves up the Florida peninsula.

Airlines are preparing their recovery schedules, which may take several days to execute.

The county administrator in the Florida Keys says crews will begin house to house searches Monday morning, looking for people who need help and assessing damage from Hurricane Irma.

Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi says relief will arrive on a C-130 military plane Monday morning at the Key West International Airport.

Once it's light out, they'll check on survivors. They suspect they may find fatalities.

Gastesi says they are "prepared for the worst."

Hurricane Irma made landfall Sunday morning in Cudjoe Key.

The U.S. Departments of State and Defense are working on evacuation flights from Sint Maarten after Hurricane Irma.

Officials say U.S. citizens in need of evacuation should shelter in place until Monday, listening for radio updates, and then go to the airport by noon, bringing proof of citizenship and just one small bag.

The State Department adds that a Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ship has left the island.

More than 3.3 million homes and businesses — and counting — have lost power in Florida as Hurricane Irma moves up the peninsula.

The widespread outages stretch from the Florida Keys all the way into central Florida.

Florida Power & Light, the state's largest electric utility, said there were nearly 1 million customers without power in Miami-Dade County alone.

The power outages are expected to increase as the storm edges further north.

There are roughly 7 million residential customers in the state. (edited)

Hurricane Irma's top sustained winds have dropped to 105 mph. That's still a Category 2 storm, meaning extensive damage will occur.

Masters says that if Irma's center had shifted just 20 miles to the north as it moved past Cuba, it could have hit the mainland United States as a Category 5.

Two manatees were stranded after Hurricane Irma sucked the water out of Sarasota Bay, in Florida's Manatee County.

Several people posted photos of the mammals on Facebook Sunday, hoping rescue workers or wildlife officials would respond. Michael Sechler posted that the animals were far too massive to be lifted, so they gave them water.

Marcelo Clavijo posted that a group of people eventually loaded the manatees onto tarps and dragged them to deeper water.

Hurricane Irma set all sorts of records for brute strength before crashing into Florida, flattening islands in the Caribbean and swamping the Florida Keys.

It finally hit the mainland as a big wide beast, but not quite as monstrous as once feared. The once-Category 5 storm lost some of its power on the northern Cuba coast.

It's still raking Florida with devastating storm surges, winds and rain. Its top sustained winds are now 110 mph (177 kph) and the center of the storm is about 15 miles (25 kilometers) inland from Fort Myers.

It's been difficult to determine the extent of damage Hurricane Irma caused in the Florida Keys, where communication has been difficult and authorities are warning boaters and drivers to stay away.

But The Associated Press has been texting with John Huston, who has been riding out the storm in his house on Key Largo, on the Atlantic side of the island, just south of John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

Every few minutes during the height of the storm, he sent another dispatch.

He described whiteout conditions, with howling winds that sucked dry the gulf side of the narrow island, where the tide is usually 8 feet deep. He kept his humor though, texting to "send cold beer" at one point. Now he sees furniture floating down the street with small boats.

He says the storm surge was at least 6 feet deep on his island, 76 miles from Irma's eye. He can see now that structures survived, but the storm left a big mess at ground level.

The Lee County Sheriff's Office says water began leaking through the roof at the Germain Arena shelter in Estero just as the eye of Hurricane Irma drew near.

Thousands of evacuees have crowded into the minor-league hockey stadium, which seats about 8,400 people and is being used as a shelter.

The sheriff's office posted on Facebook that authorities are monitoring the problem.

Florida officials are urging people to stay in their homes and shelters, even if it looks like Hurricane Irma has passed.

Miami-Dade County spokesman Mike Hernandez said he's seen reports of people leaving the county's hurricane shelters. It's too early for that, he says: "Just because it seems like the weather is clearing up, that doesn't mean it's safe to get out on the roads.

Miami Dade remains under curfew, much of it without electricity, and with downed power lines, flooding and poor visibility, moving around could be deadly.

An airborne relief mission is bringing emergency supplies to the Florida Keys, where Hurricane Irma made landfall Sunday morning.

Monroe County spokeswoman Cammy Clark said help is coming in C-130 cargo planes and other air resources.

Monroe County Emergency Management Director Martin Senterfitt calls it a humanitarian crisis.

Hurricane Irma should be moving directly over the Tampa Bay area around midnight. Residents of the highly populated area are fearing the worst.

A report by CoreLogic, the global property data firm, found nearly 455,000 Tampa Bay homes could be damaged by storm surges, the most of any major US metro area other than Miami and New York. Rebuilding those homes could cost $81 billion.

The reason Tampa Bay is so vulnerable is that the bay acts as a funnel for storm surges, forcing water into narrow channels with nowhere else to go.

The National Hurricane Center reports water levels are rising rapidly in Naples from Hurricane Irma's storm surge. A federal tide gauge in Naples reported a 7 foot rise of water in just 90 minutes.

A wind gust of 142 mph (229 kph) was recorded at the Naples Municipal Airport as the storm kept its top sustained wind speed of 110 mph (175 kph).

Irma has picked up forward speed and is moving inland at 14 mph (22 kph) and its eye is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south southeast of Fort Myers.

Lauren Durham and Michael Davis had big plans for a beach wedding this month. Hurricane Irma had bigger plans.

So instead of a poofy white dress, Durham got married in her Air National Guard fatigues, with no makeup, in a vast hangar filled with rescue vehicles in Orlando. Davis is a senior airman in the guard, like his bride, so they had called to say they'd miss their own wedding.

Then on Sunday, a friend joked that they should get married during the hurricane. Dozens of people helped out, and a fellow guard member happens to be a notary and officiated. Someone even came up with a bouquet of flowers.

The happy couple believes in service before self, and besides, they figure it'll be a great story to tell their kids one day.

President Donald Trump has declared a major disaster in the state of Florida, making federal aid available to people affected by Hurricane Irma in nine counties already hit by the storm.

The federal help includes temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans for uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover in the counties of Charlotte, Collier, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Pinellas, and Sarasota.

Federal funding also is available to governments and non-profit organizations for emergencies in all 67 Florida counties. For the first 30 days, that money will cover 100 percent of the costs of some emergency responses.

President Donald Trump says the U.S. may have gotten a "little bit lucky" after Hurricane Irma veered from its original course and headed west along Florida's coast.

He says Irma may not have been quite as destructive as a result, but that things will play out over the next several hours.

Trump addressed reporters Sunday after returning to the White House from Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland where he spent the weekend monitoring the storm.

Trump says Irma will cost "a lot of money" but he isn't thinking about that right now.

He says "right now, we're worried about lives, not cost."

Trump says he'll be having additional meetings about coordination for the storm response.

Hurricane Irma has weakened to a Category 2 storm, technically losing its major hurricane status, after making landfall in southwestern Florida. It is over land but hugging the coast as it moves north.

The National Hurricane Center said Irma's winds were at 110 mph (177 kph), just below major hurricane status, as the center of the still dangerous and wide storm moved farther inland. It was 5 miles (8 kilometers) north of Naples late Sunday afternoon. It came ashore on Marco Island at 3:35 p.m.

The hurricane center says "although weakening is forecast, Irma is expected to remain a hurricane at least through Monday morning."

The hurricane center says the eye of Irma should hug Florida's west coast through Monday morning and then push more inland over northern Florida and southwestern Georgia on Monday afternoon. The forecast puts the storm generally over the populated Tampa-St. Petersburg region a couple hours after midnight into Monday morning.

Jeff Masters is meteorology director of the private Weather Underground. He says the fact that the storm approached the Tampa region from over land and from the south could slightly reduce the expected storm surge, although he says it will still be dangerous.

Irma is producing deluges of 2 to 4 inches (5 to 13 centimeters) of rain an hour, which can cause flash flooding.

The storm surge near Cudjoe Key may be flooding the nearby Florida Key Deer Refuge, home to fewer than 1,000 of the endangered Key deer.

The unique subspecies of white-tailed deer about 3 feet (1 meter) tall at the shoulder, the size of a large dog, but wildlife officials were not immediately concerned that the herd had been lost to floodwaters.

Dan Clark is refuge manager for the Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges Complex. He says the deer are "excellent swimmers."

Clark evacuated his staff Wednesday, and he spoke with The Associated Press by phone from Pinellas County.

He says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff planned to return as soon as weather permitted to begin assessing how the deer and other endangered species fared throughout the narrow, low-lying island chain.

Police in Florida have arrested nine people who were caught on TV cameras looting sneakers and other goods from a sporting goods store and a pawn shop during Hurricane Irma.

Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Rick Maglione said the group was arrested Sunday as the storm roared across South Florida. Maglione called the idea of stealing sneakers during a hurricane "a fairly bad life choice."

Local TV images showed the alleged looters running in and out of a store through a broken window carrying boxes of sneakers.

It wasn't immediately clear what charges those arrested would face. Their identities also were not immediately released.

South Florida Water Management District chief engineer John Mitnik says it will probably be 7 p.m. Sunday before the storm surge in Miami completely subsides. He said the district is prepared for the storm surge expected on the Gulf coast and will have crews out repairing canals and drainage equipment as soon as it is safe.

Wildlife officials say Florida residents and visitors should stay away from sea turtle nests and refrain from any attempts to save them from Hurricane Irma.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says in a news release that the public must not interfere with any sea turtle eggs, even if they think they're helping.

Officials say sea turtles have a nesting strategy that accommodates natural storm events, with each female depositing several nests throughout the season. No storm season is a total loss for Florida's sea turtles. Even in 2004, when Florida sustained direct hits from several hurricanes, officials say 42 percent of state's loggerhead nests hatched, well within the normal range.

Anyone who sees exposed turtle eggs or nests should contact wildlife officials.

Officials are warning boaters to stay away from the Florida Keys in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

Monroe County spokeswoman Cammy Clark said in an email Sunday evening that nearshore waters are filled with navigation hazards like debris, sunken boats, loose boats, buoys and markers.

Residents with boats already in the Keys should avoid driving them in the nearshore waters.

Hurricane Irma made landfall Sunday morning in Cudjoe Key.

The Marco Island police department is warning people who didn't evacuate to get to higher floors in their buildings.

The department issued the warning in a tweet on Sunday just as Hurricane Irma made landfall on the island.

Forecasts have called for life-threatening storm surge of up to 15 feet (4.5 meters) along the coast.

The University of Miami will not reopen either its main campus in Coral Gables or its Marine campus before Sept. 18 while it assesses the damage caused by Hurricane Irma.

The school says it is "proactively planning the recovery process." Numerous out-of-state students went back home last week to wait out the storm and it remains unclear when they will even be able to travel back to South Florida.

Miami's annual football rivalry game with Florida State has already been pushed back to Oct. 7. It had been scheduled for Sept. 16 in Tallahassee, the state capital that is also in Irma's projected path.

Electric car maker Tesla says it has temporarily increased the battery capacity of some of its cars to help drivers escaping Hurricane Irma.

The electric car maker said the battery boost was applied to Model S and X cars in the Southeast. Some drivers only buy 60 or 70 kilowatt hours of battery capacity, but a software change will give them access to 75 kilowatt hours of battery life until Saturday. Depending on the model, that could let drivers travel about 40 more miles before they would need to recharge their cars.

Tesla said it made the change after a customer asked the company for help evacuating. The company said it's possible it will make similar changes in response to similar events in the future.

Hurricane Irma has made landfall on Marco Island, Florida, as a Category 3 hurricane.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said Irma's powerful eye roared ashore at Marco Island just south of Naples with 115-mph (185-kph) winds, for a second U.S. landfall at 3:35 p.m. Sunday.

Category 3 storms have winds from 111 to 129 mph, but 130-mph (21-kph) wind gust was recently reported by the Marco Island Police Department.

Irma's second U.S. landfall was tied for the 21st strongest landfall in the U.S. based on central pressure. Irma's first U.S. landfall in the Florida Keys was tied for 7th.

More than 2.1 million customers have lost power in Florida with Hurricane Irma striking the state.

Florida Power & Light reported the numbers Sunday afternoon. The utility, which services much of south Florida, says more than 845,000 of those customers are in Miami-Dade County.

Duke Energy, the dominant utility in the northern half of Florida, has about 13,000 outages with the outer bands of Irma sweeping across the region.

The power companies say they have extra crews on hand to try to restore power — when it becomes safe to do so.

FPL spokesman Rob Gould says an estimated 3.4 million homes and businesses will lose power once the worst of Irma reaches the Florida mainland.

Hurricane Irma is affecting the House of Representative's work schedule in Washington.

A notice from the House majority leader's office says the House now doesn't plan to take any votes Monday because of "the large number of absences" as a result of the storm.

The first votes of the week are expected Tuesday evening.

The House leadership will keep tabs on the situation and announce updates as necessary.

The eye of Hurricane Irma is nearing Naples, Florida, and continues to cause destruction over a wide swath of South Florida.

The National Hurricane Center said Irma had winds of 120 mph (195 kilometers) and was centered 20 miles (30 kilometers) south of Naples on Sunday afternoon. It was moving north at 12 mph (19 kilometers per hour). At that rate, the center of the storm should come ashore sometime between 4 and 5 p.m.

Hurricane Irma has pushed water out of a bay in Tampa, but forecasters are telling people not to venture out there, because it's going to return with a potentially deadly vengeance.

On Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa, approximately 100 people were walking Sunday afternoon on what was Old Tampa Bay — a body of water near downtown. Hurricane Irma's winds and low tide have pushed the water unusually far from its normal position. Some people are venturing as far as 200 yards (180 meters) out to get to the water's new edge. The water is normally about 4 to 5 feet (1 to 1.5 meters) deep and reaches a seawall.

The U.S. Hurricane Center has sent out an urgent alert warning of a "life-threatening storm surge inundation of 10 to 15 feet (3 to 5 meters) above ground level" and telling people to "MOVE AWAY FROM THE WATER!"

The waters retracted because the leading wind bands of Irma whipped the coastal water more out to sea. But once the eye passes and the wind reverses, the water will rush back in.

3:30 p.m. Hurricane Irma is affecting the House of Representative's work schedule in Washington.

A notice from the House majority leader's office says the House now doesn't plan to take any votes Monday because of "the large number of absences" as a result of the storm.

The first votes of the week are expected Tuesday evening.

The House leadership will keep tabs on the situaton and announce updates as necessary.

Miami City Manager Daniel Alfonso says a second tower crane has collapsed into a building under construction in the city's downtown area. Alfonso told The Associated Press that the crane collapsed in a large development with multiple towers being built by Grand Paraiso.

Another crane collapsed earlier Sunday onto a high-rise building that's under construction in a bayfront area filled with hotels and high-rise condo and office buildings, near AmericanAirlines Arena. Officials said no one was injured as the result of either crane's collapse.

High winds are impeding Miami authorities' ability to reach the cranes, and authorities are urging people to avoid the areas.

Alfonso says the approximately two-dozen other cranes in the city are still upright and built to withstand significant wind gusts.

The tower cranes working on construction sites throughout the city were a concern ahead of Irma. Moving the massive equipment, weighing up to 30,000 pounds (13,600 kilograms), is a slow process that would have taken about two weeks, according to city officials.

The National Hurricane Center says a slightly weakened but still powerful Irma will slam the Naples and Marco Island with its strongest winds in a couple of hours.

Irma's winds dropped to 120 mph (195 kilometers per hour), down from 130 mph, and forecasters say it should weaken a bit more before landfall. But it still expected to a strong major hurricane as it rakes Florida from its western edges across to the east.

The storm is 35 miles (55 kilometers) south of Naples and has picked up speed moving north at 12 mph (19 kilometers per hour).

The now Category 3 hurricane will keep on battering all of South Florida with high wind and surge, forecasters say. The hurricane center in western Miami, across the state from the eye of the mammoth storm, recorded an 81 mph (130 kilometers per hour) wind gust.

"This is a life-threatening situation," the hurricane center posted.

An apparent tornado spun off by Hurricane Irma has destroyed six mobile homes in Florida.

Palm Bay Police Department Lt. Mike Bandish said no one was injured in Sunday's tornado, but that a 93-year-old man refused to leave his damaged home. He told Florida Today that officers tried to convince him to leave, but he wouldn't.

Palm Bay is on Florida's central Atlantic Coast near the Kennedy Space Center. The eye of Irma was hundreds of miles away when the tornado struck.

Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke says she doesn't have any doubt that the federal government can respond to Hurricane Irma and the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey simultaneously.

Duke spoke Sunday afternoon at Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters. Talking about efforts to respond to Irma in Florida and the aftermath of Harvey in Texas she says, "I know we're ready and … I don't have any doubt … that as a federal government we can do this and will do this."

Duke says she and FEMA chief Brock Long spoke earlier Sunday with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence and that they are "absolutely pleased with the response" and that they "understand that we're just getting started in many ways."

Some exterior paneling of AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, home of the NBA's Heat, has been damaged by wind. The arena is near the downtown Miami location where a crane snapped as Irma pounded away Sunday. But a team official told The Associated Press that an initial investigation showed no structural damage. They'll investigate further once conditions make it safe for workers to be outside. The Heat do not play in the arena until their preseason opener on Oct. 1.

At Raymond James Stadium in Tampa — where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play football — local, regional and statewide authorities are using the parking lots and surroundings as a staging area for high-water vehicles and equipment. On Saturday afternoon, several U.S. Marine amphibious vehicles were parked side by side, giant tanks that are ready to plunge into floodwater if needed.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott says members of his family who evacuated from Naples ahead of Hurricane Irma are leaving again now that it appears the killer storm will descend on the state capital.

Scott's wife, First Lady Ann Scott, as well as his daughter, his son-in-law and grandchildren left southwest Florida and came to the state capital. Scott owns a waterfront mansion in an area that is in the path of the hurricane.

But Scott said Sunday that his daughter and grandchildren will be leaving Tallahassee to go to Washington, D.C. His daughter just gave birth to twins. Scott said it would be "tough for them if we lose power."

The governor said he doesn't know what storm preparations have taken place at the governor's mansion, located a few blocks north of the Capitol. He said he "hasn't really been there" because he has been in other parts of the state or at the state emergency operations center.

Major General Michael Calhoun, the head of Florida's National Guard, says that more than 10,000 National Guard members from other states are going to be coming into the state.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has already called up 7,000 members of the Florida National Guard to help with recovery efforts from Hurricane Irma. Those members have been dispatched to shelters around the state and will be involved in handing out supplies in storm-ravaged areas once Irma has passed through.

Georgia's governor has declared an emergency for the entire state as Hurricane Irma's approach triggers widespread severe-weather threats, including the first-ever tropical storm warning for Atlanta.

Gov. Nathan Deal's new emergency declaration came Sunday as Irma churned near Florida. The National Hurricane Center predicted the storm's center to cross Monday into southwest Georgia, where a hurricane warning was issued for communities including Albany and Valdosta.

Portions of western Alabama and coastal South Carolina were also under tropical-storm warnings.

The National Weather Service confirmed it had never before issued a tropical-storm warning for Atlanta, where wind gusts could reach 55 mph (88 kph). Meanwhile Savannah and the rest of coastal Georgia were under evacuation orders for the second time since Hurricane Matthew brushed the region last October.

More than 500 emergency responders are sleeping on cots in the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, waiting to dispatch to areas devastated by Hurricane Irma.

The convention center had planned to host an elevator-industry gathering this weekend. Instead, more than 1,000 emergency vehicles are lined up in its halls: boats, ambulances, fork lifts, buses, 18-wheelers, fire trucks, and 62 helicopters.

Rescue teams from Florida, Colorado, New York, California and Arizona were checking their gear and resting up so that they would be prepared to hit the road as soon as the storm clears. Some of those emergency workers never even made it home from responding to Hurricane Harvey before turning around and deploying to Florida.

Sean Gallagher is with the Florida Forest Service, which is coordinating the staging operation. He says the convention center's loading dock doors will close as soon as the winds in Orlando rise to hurricane levels to protect the vehicles and responders inside and won't open again until the winds die down.

Then, rapid response teams will rush into the most devastated areas to do recognizance and triage where the rescue operations are most needed.

Until then, they are crammed in the convention center's side rooms and cots. The convention center has pallets of 13,000 ready-to-eat meals.

Aaron Janssen is a helicopter mechanic with a medical aviation company. He's sleeping in a tent next to his helicopter, with his wife and 9-year-old Chihuahua named Marley. He didn't want to leave them behind at their Orlando home while he worked.

Marley spent the day chasing a pigeon around the hangar.

"She's loving it," he said. "She hadn't figured out yet that she's never going to catch that pigeon."

Miami Beach officials say emergency services have been suspended until winds drop below 40 mph (64 kph), and no one will be allowed into the city until roads have been cleared. The city would continue a mandatory 8 p.m. curfew for the next two nights.

Actor Robert De Niro says a resort development company he is involved with on Barbuda will work with local officials to help with reconstruction on the island devastated by Hurricane Irma.

De Niro says in a statement that he was "beyond saddened to learn of the devastation" in Barbuda.

The actor is a principal in the Paradise Found Nobu Resort planned for Barbuda. Construction has not yet started on the project.

He said the company will work with local officials to "to successfully rebuild what nature has taken away from us."

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne says 90 percent of the structures and vehicles on the small island were destroyed in the storm. A 2-year-old boy was killed. About 1,400 people live on the island and most have now been evacuated to Antigua.

The State Department says it and the Defense Department are resuming their evacuation of U.S. citizens from Sint Maarten via a military flight to Puerto Rico.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says the department is communicating with Americans there through social media, radio, and by phone.

The department also is coordinating with AirBnB to identify and communicate with U.S. citizens not located at hotels who may have rented residences on the island.

Vice President Mike Pence says Hurricane Irma is a "storm of historic, epic proportions."

Pence spoke Sunday afternoon while visiting the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington. He says that President Donald Trump has been monitoring the storm "24/7."

Pence says "the people of Florida need to know that our hearts and our prayers and all of our efforts are with them and will be with them until this storm passes."

Pence says Irma "continues to be a very dangerous storm" and he urged people to "heed the warnings of local officials" to either shelter in place or evacuate, depending on where they are.

He says Irma is a "very dangerous storm" and a "life-threatening storm."

Pence says "it's enormously important that every American in the path of this storm take the warnings of state and local officials to heart."

Florida Power & Light says it will be weeks, not days, before electricity is fully restored because of the damage being done by Hurricane Irma.

Spokesman Rob Gould said Sunday that an estimated 3.4 million homes and businesses will lose power once the worst of Irma reaches the Florida mainland. He expects thousands of miles (kilometers) of poles and lines will need to be replaced, particularly on the Gulf coast. As of Sunday afternoon, about

1.5 million customers were without power.

He said 17,000 restoration workers from as far away as California and Massachusetts are already stationed around the state, but it will take time to rebuild the system.

The utility covers much of the state, including most cities on the Atlantic coast and the Gulf coast south of Tampa. It does not cover Tampa and St. Petersburg, two major cities in Irma's forecast path.

At least 25 people in one Florida county have been arrested for violating a curfew imposed as Hurricane Irma approached the state.

Palm Beach County authorities say the arrests were made after a 3 p.m. Saturday curfew was imposed. The misdemeanor charge can carry a fine of up to $500 and potentially 60 days in jail.

Officials announced the curfew as a safety measure and to prevent looting and other crimes. They say some of those arrested could face other charges, such as drug possession or drunken driving.

The curfew will be lifted after a storm damage assessment is done.

A meteorologist calculates that Hurricane Irma will dump about 10 trillion gallons (38 trillion liters) of rain on Florida over a day-and-a-half time period. That's about 500,000 gallons (1.9 trillion liters) for every Florida resident.

Private meteorologist Ryan Maue of WeatherBell Analytics based his calculations on weather service forecasts. He also calculates it will dump 6 trillion gallons (23 trillion liters) on Georgia.

By comparison, Hurricane Harvey, which stalled over the Texas coast, dumped about 20 trillion gallons (76 trillion liters) on Texas and 7 trillion gallons (26 trillion liters) of rain on Louisiana in about five days. One place around Houston got more than 50 inches (130 centimeters) of rain. Irma is expected to crawl steadily through the Sunshine State.

The National Hurricane Center projects 15 to 20 inches (38 to 50 centimeters) of rain with spots up to 25 inches (64 centimeters) for the Florida Keys. Western Florida is forecast to get 10 to 15 inches of rain (25 to 38 centimeters), with as much as 20 inches (50 centimeters) in spots. The rest of Florida and southeastern Georgia is projected to get 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 centimeters) of rain, with isolated outbursts up to 16 inches (40 centimeters).

Emergency workers in inflatable boats are navigating flooded streets along Havana's coast, where thousands of people left their homes for safer ground before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba.

Seawater has penetrated as much as 1,600 feet (500 meters) inland in parts of the city. Trees are toppled, roofs have been torn off, cement water tanks have fallen from roofs to the ground and electrical lines are down.

Elena Villar is a Havana resident whose home of 30 years filled with more than 6 feet (2 meters) of water.

She was on the edge of tears Sunday as she said: "I have lost everything."

Villar and her mother spent the night huddling in the lobby of a higher building nearby as the storm raked the city.

In her words: "I have never seen a disaster like this."

Thanks to Hurricane Irma, Savannah, Georgia, has been evacuated for the second time in less than a year. Atlanta, meanwhile, is under a tropical-storm warning for the first time ever.

Nearly all of Georgia was under some type of severe-weather warning Sunday as Irma churned near Florida. The National Hurricane Center predicted the storm's center to cross Monday into southwest Georgia, where a hurricane warning was issued for communities including Albany and Valdosta.

Portions of western Alabama and coastal South Carolina were also under tropical-storm warnings.

The National Weather Service confirmed it had never before issued a tropical-storm warning for Atlanta, where wind gusts could reach 55 mph (88 kph). That's nothing new to Savannah and the rest of coastal Georgia, which evacuated last October for Hurricane Matthew.

The White House says President Donald Trump has received a "comprehensive update" on Hurricane Irma.

Irma plowed into the Florida Keys on Sunday and was forecast to march up the state's west coast.

Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and several Cabinet members participated in the briefing from Camp David — the presidential retreat where Trump has spent the weekend monitoring the storm.

Other administration officials joined in from the White House or Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington.

Pence and several Cabinet secretaries are planning to visit FEMA headquarters later Sunday.

The White House says Trump has spoken with the governors of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. Irma could affect all four states.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott says he also spoke with Trump on Sunday.

Deputies shot and wounded a burglar and arrested his accomplice at a Florida home as Hurricane Irma blew in.

The Broward Sheriff's Office said in a news release Sunday that the homeowners in Weston were out of town but saw the burglars remotely inside the house through a home surveillance system.

Deputies responded shortly before 3 a.m. and one of the two juvenile males was shot outside the home. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. The other person was arrested.

Their names were not immediately released.

High winds are impeding Miami authorities' ability to reach a construction crane toppled by Hurricane Irma.

The crane fell onto a high-rise building that's under construction. It's in a bayfront area filled with hotels and high-rise condo and office buildings, near AmericanAirlines Arena.

Miami-Dade County Director of Communications Mike Hernandez said emergency personnel couldn't immediately respond to the scene because of high winds. Authorities urged people to avoid the area after the Sunday morning collapse. It wasn't clear if there were any injuries.

Miami City Manager Daniel Alfonso said the approximately two-dozen other cranes in the city are still upright and built to withstand significant wind gusts.

The tower cranes working on construction sites throughout the city were a concern ahead of Irma. Moving the massive equipment, weighing up to 30,000 pounds, is a slow process that would have taken about two weeks, according to city officials.

Florida sheriff's deputies rescued a couple who tried to ride out Hurricane Irma on a small sailboat.

Christine Weiss of the Martin County Sheriff's Office said a passer-by noticed the couple was in trouble Sunday. It happened just off Jensen Beach, which is on the Atlantic Coast north of Palm Beach.

Video shows a Martin County patrol boat manned by deputies John Howell and James Holloran and Detective Mathew Fritchie pulling up next to the sailboat.

The task of helping the couple onto their boat was precarious as both boats bobbed in choppy water. Deputies then took them to shore.

The names of the couple were not released. They were not injured.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says the death toll caused by Hurricane Irma on the Caribbean territory of St. Maarten has risen to four.

Rutte said Sunday, "unfortunately there are more victims to mourn" after the bodies of two people washed up on the island. He says the identities of the victims are not yet known.

One of the four people listed as victims by the Dutch authorities died of natural causes as the Category 5 hurricane lashed St. Maarten, badly damaging or destroying 70 percent of homes on the Dutch part of the Caribbean island.

Some Miami Police officers remembered to pack an essential in their hurricane survival pack: Cuban coffee known as cafecito.

The department tweeted a picture showing a coffee maker atop a camp stove. It read: "As our officers ride out the storm, some have brought the (hashtag) Miami essentials to help them get through the night."

The strongly caffeinated brew is a staple in Miami.

Former FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said this week he'd check Cuban coffee stands to gauge Irma's impacts on Miami.

Fugate is known for creating the so-called "Waffle House Index." Fugate used the Southern restaurant chain as a benchmark for how quickly local communities could rebound from hurricanes.

Waffle House are known for being open most of the time. Under the index, a closed Waffle House was a bad sign. There are no Waffle Houses in Miami, so Fugate suggested an alternative.

"Cuban coffee stands — if those are closed, it is bad," he told AP.

President Donald Trump has spoken with the governors of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee as Hurricane Irma moves north.

All four states could be affected by the storm, which struck the Florida Keys on Sunday.

The White House says Trump spoke with the officials Sunday from the Camp David presidential retreat, where he was spending the weekend.

Trump has been in regular contract with Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio over the past week. Chief of staff John Kelly spoke Sunday with Florida Sen. Bill Nelson.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were scheduled to receive an updated Irma briefing on Sunday.

As Hurricane Irma evacuees fill up Atlanta hotels and shelters, folks are getting creative to offer them a hand.

About 100 of America's top chefs who had gathered for their annual summit changed gears. They pivoted their planned Monday agenda on "heritage grains" and "how to cut food waste." Now, instead, the chefs will prepare a gourmet feast for Irma refugees and serve it at a church.

Hotels were full Sunday morning. At the luxury Georgian Terrace Hotel, staff were flexible with rules to accommodate evacuees. Guests walked pit bulls through the lobby. Large families pulled roller bags and clutched blankets as they squeezed into small rooms without enough beds.

A block away, a church offered free hugs for evacuees.

And a chalkboard sign outside a restaurant offered a discount: "30% OFF Food with FLORIDA ID for Hurricane evacuees."

The National Hurricane Center says Category 4 Hurricane Irma is now "headed for the southwest Florida coast" as winds continue to pick up speed in all of South Florida.

Irma continues to be armed with 130 mph winds as its large eye passes north of the Keys.

Storm surge is forecast for 10 to 15 feet in southwestern Florida.

Hurricane-force winds are continuing throughout southern Florida, including the Keys. The hurricane center warns that winds affecting upper floors of high-rise building will be much stronger than at ground level.

The hurricane center also emphasizes that Irma will bring life-threatening wind to much of Florida regardless of the exact track of its center.

Puerto Rico's governor says there will be no classes on Monday because hundreds of schools still do not have power or water after the island took a hit from Hurricane Irma.

Ricardo Rossello said Sunday that more than 600 schools don't have power and more than 400 don't have water. Another nearly 400 schools don't have either, and dozens are flooded.

Nearly 600,000 people in the U.S. territory remain without power, representing 40 percent of customers of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.

The National Weather Service says that a crane has collapsed in Miami as strong wind from Hurricane Irma blows in.

It's one of two-dozen in the city.

The weather service's Miami office said in a Tweet that one of its employees witnessed the crane boom and counterweight collapse in downtown Miami. The employee captured video of the collapse.

It wasn't immediately clear if the collapse caused damage or injuries.

The cranes have been a concern.

Construction sites across Irma's potential path in Florida were locked down to remove or secure building materials, tools and debris that could be flung by Irma's winds.

But the horizontal arms of the tall tower cranes remained loose despite the potential danger of collapse. According to city officials, it would have taken about two weeks to move the cranes and there wasn't enough time.

Hurricane Irma's large eye is beginning to move slowly away from the Florida Keys as it continues north with 130 mph (215 kph) winds.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami reported that the center of core of Irma is about 25 miles (40 km) northeast of Key West.

Irma is so wide that a gust of 93 mph (150 kph) was measured near Key Largo at the other end of the Florida Keys.

A Florida Keys refuge for a unique subspecies of deer is in the crosshairs of Hurricane Irma.

The Florida Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key is about 10 miles from where the storm made landfall Sunday morning.

It's the only place in world where you find Key deer, a unique subspecies of white-tailed deer about 3 feet tall at the shoulder — the size of a large dog.

The herd faced a potential extinction event last year when the first screwworm infestation in the U.S. in 30 years. Fewer than 1,000 of the endangered deer remain, and the parasites that eat the flesh of living mammals killed 135 Key deer before state and federal agriculture authorities stopped the infestation earlier this year.

France's Interior Minister expressed relief that Hurricane Jose spared French Caribbean islands St. Martin and St. Barts further devastation.

Gerard Collomb, speaking at a press conference in Paris Sunday, said that Jose passed miles away.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for France's government defended its handling of the hurricane crisis in St. Martin and St. Barts amid criticism that many in the local population felt abandoned by authorities.

Christophe Castaner, speaking in an interview with Europe1 -CNews-Les Echos on Sunday, said he "perfectly (understood) the anger" of residents after Hurricane Irma tore through the French Caribbean islands, killing several people, destroying houses and cutting off the water supply. Some shops were subsequently looted by locals.

But he insisted the means deployed by the government were robust — with emergency help given "first priority."

Florida officials say 127,000 people across the state have taken refuge in more than 500 shelters as Hurricane Irma takes aim at the state.

The state Division of Emergency Management did not specify which shelters had the most people.

Meanwhile, utility officials were warning that the storm could leave millions without power by the time it finishes moving through the state. Already, more than 1.3 million Florida customers were in the dark on Sunday morning as the hurricane made landfall in the Florida Keys.

Florida Power & Light, the state's largest utility, is reporting on Sunday that many people living in the three populous south Florida counties of Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach are without power. State officials say another 64,000 customers who rely on smaller utilities have also lost electricity.

For the first time, a tropical storm warning has been issued for the city of Atlanta.

The National Weather Service in Peachtree City, Georgia, said Sunday it was the first time such a warning had been issued for the metro Atlanta area. High wind warnings have been issued in previous storms.

The warning means that tropical storm conditions are expected within the next 36 hours. Peak winds were expected to reach 30 to 40 mph (48 to 64 kph) with gusts of up to 55 mph (88 kph).

The weather service says storm threats include damage to porches, carports, sheds and unanchored mobile homes. Roads may become impassable due to debris. Power outages could occur.

Hurricane Irma became tied for the seventh strongest storm to make landfall in U.S. history by a key measurement of atmospheric pressure.

Hurricane Irma made landfall at Cudjoe Key at 9:10 a.m. with a minimum central pressure of 929 millibars. Atmospheric pressure is one of the major measurements meteorologists use to describe storms. The lower the pressure, the stronger the storm.

Only six storms on record had lower pressures when striking the United States, including Katrina. When Katrina hit in 2005, it had lower pressure but its wind speed kept it at Category 3.

The 929 pressure mark ties Irma with the deadly 1928 Lake Okeechobee hurricane.

Irma's arrival also marks another first.

Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach says this is the first year on record that the United States has been hit by two storms that were Category 4 upon landfall: Harvey and Irma.

As Hurricane Irma threatened to wallop the St. Petersburg area, several folks got out on the beach ahead of the storm.

As they milled about Sunday morning, they looked at sailboats bobbing in the wind as the sun rose and took selfies and photos of the beach.

St. Petersburg resident John Leuders says he feels safe. With stores out of plywood, he tore down part of his fence to board up windows. He came down to the beach out of curiosity and noted the strong winds along the water.

Another resident, Sally Carlson, says she's been around for other storms and hurricanes, but this one scares her. She says she wanted to see the city one more time before any problems.

She adds: "I'm hoping it comes out unscathed, but I know better."

Florida utility officials say more than 1 million customers have lost power as Hurricane Irma hits the state.

Florida Power & Light Company said that nearly 1.1 million customers statewide were without power Sunday morning.

About 574,000 of those outages were in Miami-Dade County, while there were 360,000 in Broward and nearly 136,000 in Palm Beach County.

The massive storm made landfall in the Florida Keys, and its center was forecast to move up the state's Gulf Coast. But the effects are being felt far from the center because of Irma's size.

Hurricane Irma has made landfall in the Florida Keys.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said the center of the massive hurricane made landfall on Cudjoe Key in the lower Florida Keys at 9:10 a.m.

Its top sustained winds are 130 mph (215 kph).

Forecasters say a gust of 106 mph (171 kph) was reported on Big Pine Key.

The Florida Highway Patrol says two people have died in a head-on crash in a county where Hurricane Irma's wind and rain have started to blow in.

Agency spokesman Greg Bueno said the crash happened Sunday morning in Hardee County, which is southeast of Tampa.

It wasn't immediately clear what role the weather may have played. He says troopers are investigating the crash and no further details were immediately available.

Bueno said in an email that the area is starting to feel the effects of Hurricane Irma.

The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for the county, saying a severe thunderstorm was in the area.

The National Hurricane Center forecasts that the core of Hurricane Irma will likely chug directly for the highly populated Tampa-St. Petersburg region after it gets through raking the Keys, but the storm is so massive all of Florida will be feeling the Category 4 hurricane's fury.

The center of the storm was just off Key West Sunday morning.

The latest forecast of Irma's eye — which still can change — keeps the nearly 400-mile wide (640-kilometer) storm in the water, barely off the coast of southwestern Florida's Fort Myers and Naples.

But that also puts that region in the strongest northeast quadrant of the storm, where storm surge, wind, rain and tornado threats are highest.

And a few miles wiggle could bring Irma's eye — which has measured 30 miles wide (48 kilometers) — inland.

The storm is moving slowly, about 8 mph (13 kilometers per hour) so its eye is likely to hit the Tampa region around 2 a.m. Monday, but damaging winds, storm, surge, rain and tornadoes will reach the area long before then.

Doctors were forced to talk a Florida woman through delivering her baby at home while Hurricane Irma's outer bands lashed Miami.

The City of Miami said on its Twitter account early Sunday that firefighters couldn't respond in time to the woman in the Little Haiti neighborhood. So doctors from Jackson Health System talked her through the birth of the baby girl at home.

Authorities say firefighters were able to make it to the woman Sunday morning and take her to the hospital after the girl was born.

Miami-Dade fire spokeswoman Erika Benitez said the fire department is responding to calls on a case-by-case basis as strong winds and rain lash the area. They are encouraging residents to stay inside because of downed power lines and debris.

Florida authorities have issued another stern warning about Hurricane Irma: Shooting bullets into the storm won't help keep you safe.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office tweeted late Saturday: "DO NOT shoot weapons @ (hashtag) Irma. You won't make it turn around (and) it will have very dangerous side effects."

The sheriff's office, which is in the Tampa Bay-area, was responding to a Facebook event page created two Florida men inviting people to shoot at Irma.

The page reads: "YO SO THIS GOOFY … LETS SHOW IRMA THAT WE SHOOT FIRST …"

The invitation presumably was a joke, but 80,000 people indicated they were "going" or "interested" in the event.

In a tweet early Sunday, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office asked the thousands of people who had shared the page to also share their request for volunteers needed at hurricane shelters.

Forecasters say Hurricane Irma's center is poised to blow across the Florida Keys.

The northern eyewall of the storm reached the island chain early Sunday.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said in a public advisory that the center of the storm remained offshore but was going to make landfall soon. The storm was centered about 20 miles east (30 km) of Key West, and it was moving north-northwest at 8 mph (13 kph)

The storm had maximum sustained winds of 130 mph (215) kph. The National Weather Service reported wind gusts of 90 mph (145 kph) near its Key West office.

After hitting the Florida Keys, Irma was forecast to move up the state's Gulf Coast later Sunday.

The National Weather Service in Miami has issued tornado warnings for a wide swath of Monroe, Miami-Dade and Broward counties in South Florida.

Officials say the band of rain and tornado producing cells is moving quickly.

There have been no reports of tornadoes touching down.

Authorities are urging people who chose to ride out Hurricane Irma in the Florida Keys to remain indoors until the storm passes.

The storm's eyewall reached the chain of islands Sunday morning. The National Weather Service reported wind gusts of 90 mph (145 kph) near its Key West office.

In a Facebook post early Sunday, Key West Police urged people who stayed for the hurricane to remain where they took shelter until the storm had passed completely. They also urged people not to go outside when the eye of the storm is over there area, a time period when conditions can seem deceptively calm.

John Huston, who is riding out the storm from his home in Key Largo in the upper Keys, says the wind gusts are strong in his area.

"Water level is higher today," he said via text message Sunday morning. "Incredible wind that won't stop."

Hurricane Irma's eyewall has reached the Florida Keys.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami says the storm's northern eyewall reached the lower Florida Keys Sunday morning. The eyewall is a band of clouds surrounding the center of the storm that has intense winds and strong rain.

The hurricane center says Key West International Airport has measured sustained winds of 50 mph (80 kph).

Hundreds of thousands of people are without power in Florida as Hurricane Irma's winds and rain lash the state.

Irma's center was over water off Key West early Sunday, but places including Miami were being hit with strong winds and rain.

Florida Power & Light Company said that about 430,000 customers were without power Sunday morning. Miami-Dade County had the most outages with about 250,000. Broward County had 130,000 outages. Palm Beach County had more than 40,000 outages.

The utility said that it has mobilized crews and is working to restore power as it can.

With Hurricane Irma closing in on Florida, the storm's winds are already lashing parts of the state.

In Key West, Carol Walterson Stroud and her family are huddled in a third floor apartment at a senior center.

Stroud said early Sunday that the wind was blowing hard, but her family was OK. In a text message to a reporter, she said: "We are good so far."

As of 6 a.m. EDT, forecasters say the Category 4 storm is centered about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of the island.

The 60-year-old is with her husband and granddaughter and their dog. Stroud says she plans to step outside once the "eye" of the hurricane passes over later Sunday.

Meanwhile, to the north, access to all of Pinellas County's barrier islands, including the popular spring break destination of Clearwater Beach, has been shut off.

The eye of Hurricane Irma is very close to the lower Florida Keys.

As of 6 a.m. EDT, the U.S. National Hurricane Center says the Category 4 storm is centered about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south-southeast of Key West, Florida, and is moving northwest at 8 mph (13 kph).

Irma's maximum sustained winds are near 130 mph (215 kph). The hurricane center says weakening is forecast but Irma is expected to remain a powerful hurricane as it moves through the Florida Keys and near Florida's west coast.

France and the Netherlands say their islands in the Caribbean were spared major damage from Hurricane Jose, which passed farther away from the islands than expected.

The Sunday announcements — coming from France's national weather service and the Dutch navy — were good news for islands that had already been devastated by Hurricane Irma last week.

Meteo-France said Jose's center passed overnight about 75 miles (125 kilometers) from St. Martin and 80 miles (135 kilometers) from St. Barts, though it still produced gales of up to 48 mph (80 kph) around the islands.

In a tweet Sunday, the Netherlands' navy says the situation after Jose passed north of the islands overnight is "better than expected." Scores of marines and troops will resume their efforts to restore vital infrastructure and distribute food and water on St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius.

In a separate tweet, the navy said the security situation on St. Maarten, which saw widespread looting and robberies after Hurricane Irma, has improved thanks to patrols by marines and police flown to the island to help overwhelmed local law enforcement.

Hurricane Irma has sped up slightly and its eye is about to move across the lower Florida Keys early Sunday.

The hurricane is centered about 40 miles (65 kilometers) south-southeast of Key West, Florida, and is moving north-northwest near 8 mph (13 kph).

Irma is a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 130 mph (215 kph). The U.S. National Hurricane Center says weakening is forecast but Irma is expected to remain a powerful hurricane as it moves through the Florida Keys and near Florida's west coast.

Tens of thousands in Florida are huddled in shelters as the hurricane threatens to make a catastrophic hit on the state.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander is flying to the Caribbean to meet survivors of Hurricane Irma who were evacuated there from the hard-hit island of St. Maarten.

Meanwhile, Dutch tourists stranded for days on St. Maarten are hoping to finally get flights home.

Willem-Alexander was to fly Sunday to the island of Curacao to visit a hospital where more than 60 patients from St. Maarten who require kidney dialysis were flown for treatment over the last two days by the Dutch military.

If the weather is good enough, the monarch will later fly onward to St. Maarten and two other smaller islands hit by Irma on Wednesday to offer his support to the thousands of residents and Dutch marines helping to clear the island, where some 70 percent of homes were badly damaged or destroyed by the Category 5 storm.

The Dutch navy tweeted Sunday that it plans to evacuate tourists from the island's shattered resorts.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Irma is bearing down on the lower Florida Keys early Sunday.

A National Ocean Service station on a coral reef near the Keys has recorded sustained winds of 66 mph (105 kph) with a gust up to 85 mph (137 kph). Key West International Airport has measured sustained winds of 43 mph (69 kph) with a gust up to 73 mph (117 kph).

Irma is centered about 55 miles (90 kilometers) south-southeast of Key West, Florida, and is moving northwest near 6 mph (9 kph).


Watch the video: ΤΟΥ ΚΟΒΩ το ΙΝΤΕΡΝΕΤ και ΤΡΕΛΕΝΕΤΑΙ Ο ΝΤΙΜΟΝ! ΠΟΛΥ ΑΣΤΕΙΟ (September 2021).