5:48 p.m. – Hurricane Irma is now a Category 2 storm and is moving north through Florida with winds of 105 mph. She is moving at 14 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
Millions of people are reported to be without power.
Only two weeks after Hurricane Harvey devastated the coastal cities of Texas and a death toll of at least 70, Hurricane Irma threatens to do the same in Florida.
Having ravaged through parts of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands already, Irma has now made landfall in Miami and the Florida Keys. She is projected to strengthen over the next few hours.
For some Santa Clarita residents, the storm hits close to home as they sit by their phones and computers awaiting phone calls and updates from their loved ones in the eastern state.
Jennifer Lanner Parrott just moved to Santa Clarita from Florida three months ago. Her parents and sister still reside in the city of Cape Coral.
“I’ve been trying to get my parents out [of Florida] since Monday and the flights couldn’t even get them here,” said Parrott.
Cape Coral, a city known for its many canals and waterways, was under mandatory evacuation but Parrott’s family was unable to leave.
“They have nowhere to go because if they get in a car now and drive there’s a gas shortage, there’s no hotels, they don’t know anybody. They don’t know where to go,” she said.
SCV resident Kathy DeStackelberg has been corresponding with her step son Jared in Sarasota, a town 50 miles south of Tampa.
With his wife and two kids, along with other immediate family, Jared has boarded up his house to weather the storm.
“Evacuations have already come and gone for all of the coastal areas,” said Jared. His home is several miles inland, and was not explicitly ordered to be evacuated.
Out of the dozen or so houses that stand on the street where the DeStackelberg’s live, eight of them have evacuated, according to Jared.
“About a week ago we had kind of discussed, ‘should we evacuate or not,’ and then all of the models kind of projected everything to go up the east coast of Florida, so we assumed that we would probably be ok,” he said.
Since then, projections have shown a shift in Irma’s path to travel up the state’s west coast running right through the town of Sarasota.
“I grew up in Virginia, and we’ve been in Florida for about ten years. This part of Florida doesn’t usually get hit with hurricanes so this is the first hurricane that we’ve been part of,” said Jared.
Alan Armani in Valencia attended the University of Florida and has many friends that still reside in the Sunshine State.
“Most of my friends are staying put. Boarded up, sand bags. Only one of my friends [left the state].” said Armani.
Having gone through Hurricane Charley in 2004, Armani knows what a major storm is like, but is concerned at how much bigger Hurricane Irma is projected to be.
“Disney has only shut down five times in history so when you know Disney shuts down you know that things are getting pretty serious.” said Armani.
Further north in Clermont, a town just west of Orlando, one of Armani’s friends, Lou Lewandoski, awaits the storm with his parents.
Lewandowski and his family sit at the ready with duffel bags packed in case the storm turns toward their direction. They will stay with a friend in Atlanta, Georgia.
“I’ve been in Florida since 2002 so I’ve been through a couple but this probably going to be the worst one,” said Lewandowski.
On Saturday, September 9, the weather in Clermont was sunny and in the upper 70’s. By Sunday, heavy clouds and rain surrounded Lewandowski’s home.
The last hurricane to make landfall in the Orlando and Tampa area was in 1921.
On Sunday morning, Jennifer Lanner Parrott was getting increasingly nervous for her family.
“They’re probably doing better than I am to be honest with you,” said Parrot. “I cant really talk to them because they have to conserve their battery power, so I’m just telling them to text me when they can when the power starts to go out.”
As of 11:36 a.m. PT, Hurricane Irma is tearing its way through Miami and is expected to hit Naples in less than an hour. It is now a Category 3 with winds of 120 mph according to the National Weather Service.