made landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast early Wednesday morning, damaging the region with strong winds, heavy rain and dangerous flooding.
When the storm made landfall, it was a Category 3 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center, with “catastrophic storm surge and damaging winds.” The maximum sustained winds of the hurricane were about 125 miles per hour, the agency said. Over 169,000 customers have lost power as of 8:30 a.m.
In Cedar Key, an island city of just about 700 people, torrential storm surge poured through the streets. The area was under a mandatory evacuation order. The city’s fire department shared a video that showed water rushing through dark streets as more rain poured down. The department said that things were “going downhill fast” and noted that the power is out in the area.
In a second video, the department said the tide is expected to keep coming in until noon, and said that “most of the streets around the downtown are underwater.” The strength of the storm is keeping first responders from seeing “how bad things are.” A later video showed downed trees and rushing water, and photos show further destruction.
Two videos posted by a man in Cedar Key showed water coming down side streets at around 5 a.m. local time.
“It’s going to swallow up the whole town,” said Michael Presley Bobbitt, the man filming.
Later photos and videos from Bobbitt showed scattered debris, downed tree branches and water continuing to travel down side streets. Bobbitt said in the caption that the water had reached his backyard.
“Our entire downtown is submerged,” he wrote. “Houses everywhere are submerged.”
In St. Petersburg, police said they had to rescue a person from flooding at a mobile home park. A video shared by the department shows water reaching the hood of a car in the coastal city.
Treasure Island, a city located on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, has closed its bridges and will not be accessible for hours, officials said on social media. “Significant flooding” is expected, and photos show water reaching park benches.
In Clearwater, another area that had been under mandatory evacuation, officials said the storm surge was causing “strain” on the city’s stormwater system. Residents who did not evacuate were told to restrict water and toilet usage. Photos show high water and a partially-flooded street.
This is a developing story and will be updated. Please refresh for updates.