President Donald Trump bowed in prayer with his Cabinet as Vice President Mike Pence opened an emergency planning meeting with prayer at Camp David on Saturday.
Earlier, the White House had released this statement from President Trump:
"The President and his Cabinet, meeting at Camp David, continue to receive regular updates on Hurricanes Irma and Jose. FEMA is leading the Federal effort to coordinate support to the impacted States and U.S. Territories. The President and First Lady are keeping all the people impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in their thoughts and prayers and urge everyone to listen to and follow the safety instructions of local authorities."
Trump also called on everyone in the storm's path to count their lives greater than their possessions and "get out of its way." He said property can be replaced, but people can't, saying all of America grieves for those who have died.
Meanwhile, some Florida residents prayed and sang "The Great I Am" on the beaches as Irma approached.
This is incredible, some residents singing "The Great I Am" on a Miami Beach before #irma comes through
— Adam ن (@adambeamer) September 10, 2017
And as the threat of storm surge threatened the state, for the Keys all the way up through Tampa, Florida's Governor Rick Scott called for prayer.
“I don’t see prayer as a last resort, it should always be a first resort,” said Florida Governor Rick Scott. "Pray, pray for everybody in Florida," he said on Fox News Sunday.
Weekend Coverage Below:
Florida Power & Light says it will be weeks, not days, before electricity is fully restored because of the damage being done by Irma.
Nearly 7 million homes and businesses lost power as Irma climbed the Florida mainland.
As Irma made its way through the Florida region storm surge was a big concern. A storm surge is when waters from the ocean and nearby bodies of water are pushed onto dry land.
In Miami, there were reports of waist-deep water. Nearly two feet of water have flooded the streets in the Brickell area.
The Weather Channel’s Mike Seidel tweeted this video of a storm surge there.
— Mike Seidel (@mikeseidel) September 10, 2017
“It’s bad it’s nasty here. We’re not even getting the direct hit,” Senator Marco Rubio, R-FL, told Fox News.
The storm officially made landfall in the Florida Keys a little after 9 am. In addition to the storm surge of more than 10 feet there, the chain of islands is still being hit by extremely strong winds.
Meanwhile, President Trump approved Disaster Declaration for Florida and Puerto Rico and made additional assistance available for the U.S. Virgin Islands.
A last minute shift west sent Hurricane Irma heading towards the Tampa Bay and St. Pete area.
Authorities warned nearly seven million people in the Southeast to evacuate. That number included 6.4 million in Florida alone.
Irma ran along the northern coast of Cuba Saturday, downing power lines and trees and blocking roads.
Thousands of people in the Caribbean raced to find shelter. Twenty-four people lost their lives in the storm as it barrelled through that region.
As Irma neared south Florida, Gov. Rick Scott was warning people to follow evacuation orders. More than 6 million people were warned to leave their homes, and more than 160,000 people took refuge in emergency shelters.
CBN Reporter Gary Lane talks with contributor Chuck Holton about the situation in the shelters.
Gov. Scott added that those who failed to leave the state Friday night would have to ride out the storm at their own risk.
"It's going to be very difficult to survive this if you're in the Keys," he warned during a Saturday morning interview with The Weather Channel. "I'm begging you to get out."
Taking his own advice, Scott and his family evacuated their beachside mansion along the Gulf Coast.
Hundreds of thousands of Floridians have fled the state, clogging its major highways, but the governor says traffic officials decided not to reverse the direction of southbound lanes because gas and supplies must still move south. Saturday afternoon, officials allowed motorists to use emergency lanes to speed up the pace.
Scott is stressing the powerful storm could be a historic disaster.
"Remember Hurricane Andrew is one of the worst storms in the history of Florida. This storm is much worse," Scott said.
Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Brock Long has this advice for people in Irma's path: "Get out" now!
Georgia's Gov. Nathan Deal is urging more than half a million state coastal residents to evacuate before Irma hits.
Irma is the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.
When it was still packing 185-175 mile per hour winds, it devastated small northern Caribbean islands like Saint Martin and Barbuda.
Here's what Irma did to St. Martin. This amazing footage from the storm shows residents trying to rescue people trapped in a flipped-over bus. It comes about halfway through:
Gaston Brown, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said the country has been decimated.
"It was the worst time in all my life. I would not like to see a hurricane like this again," one island resident said.
"We were praying the whole time," one island visitor said, standing next to her injured friend in the hospital.
In Puerto Rico, Irma left nearly a million people without power and it could be four to six months in some areas before its restored.
And here in the U.S., the National Weather Service warns that some "locations hit by Irma could be uninhabitable for weeks or months" due to powerful winds, and that "structural damage to buildings, with many washing away" is possible in some coastal areas.
Florida is the main state in Irma's path where huge numbers of people are evacuating and getting ready for the monster storm.
And CBN's Operation Blessing has been stocking up for its relief and humanitarian aid as well.
OB already has dozens of tractor trailer loads of water and food at its warehouse in Ocala, Florida, and has been in contact with Florida pastors they've worked with over the years as it prepares to help those who will need it in Irma's aftermath.
Meanwhile, Operation Blessing continues to aid the flooded residents in Harvey's aftermath in Texas.