Hammered by Andrew, Florida town's rebuilding tested by Irma

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A significant storm surge is expected from Cape Sable on Florida's southern tip, up along the west coast to Tampa, with water levels possibly reaching 8 feet, said Michael Brennan, a senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center. Forecasts predicted Hurricane Jose, upgraded to a Category 5 storm Friday morning, was on its way to the island.

The header picture on his account was also updated to show him being briefed on Hurricane Irma's path.

Amid the exodus, almost one-third of all gas stations in Florida's metropolitan areas were out of gasoline, with scattered outages in Georgia, North Carolina and SC, according to Gasbuddy.com, a retail fuel price tracking service.

The National Hurricane Center says storm surge is "often the greatest threat to life and property from a hurricane", and Norman agrees.

Hurricane Irma lingered along Cuba's north coast Friday, swamping seaside towns and shredding the island's rickety infrastructure, though there were no reports of deaths or injuries.

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This infrared image from the MODIS instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite shows extremely cold temperatures (red) in thunderstorms surrounding the eye of Hurricane Irma as it traveled along Cuba's northern coast on September 9 at 3:15 a.m. EDT (0715) GMT).

"Andrew was small and strong, and Irma is big and mighty". That area is expected to see between 6-10 inches of rain.

A hurricane warning was in effect in Cuban provinces of Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus, Villa Clara and Matanzas, while floods have been reported in the northeast.

Baker, Putnam, Alachua, Bradford, Columbia, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Suwannee and Union counties will be the closest to Hurricane Irma's eye on Monday.

Hurricane wind conditions are expected in portions of South and Central Florida and the Florida Keys as early as Saturday night.

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If Irma doesn't veer off track, it is likely to hit the Florida Keys Sunday morning before moving up the Gulf Coast. The storm was expected to arrive in Cuba by Friday. Forecasters, though, maintain that risky conditions still may be present on the east coastline - including some storm surge and heavy rain bands. That stretch includes Cape Coral, Naples, Miami, Ft. The family evacuated from West Palm Beach.

FEMA chief Brock Long warned parts of Florida would be without electricity for days - if not longer - and that more than 100,000 people may need shelter.

In another sign of the growing alarm about the damage Irma could wreak, the authorities in the state of Georgia also ordered the mandatory evacuation of the city of Savannah and other coastal areas, affecting more than 300,000. Jose is about 265 miles east-southeast of the northern Leeward Islands. Avila said a turn northwest and north-northwest "is about to begin".

In last 24 hours, about 54,000 people have already moved to more than 320 shelters in Florida, with more opening today.

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