Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Weather

Hurricane Irma's impact being seen across Tampa Bay

As dawn broke over Tampa Bay on Monday morning, the devastation that Hurricane Irma brought to the region was beginning to come into focus.

Search and rescue crews are out this morning to assess the damage, but early on, reports of fallen trees and other impacts filtered in through social media.

The storm also ripped the roof off the Howard Johnson's on Gulf Boulevard in St. Pete Beach.

LIVE BLOG: Check out damage reports and the latest on Hurricane Irma

"I don't want to say there's a lot of damage, said Richard Rude, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "I guess there's some damage and it seems to be mainly trees down, some power lines down and some localized flooding.

Keith Overton watched as Hurricane Irma ripped the roof from the building Sunday around 9 p.m.

"It blew it all the way the beach," Overton said." At that point, we said it's time to go in for the night."

Waters retreated in the Gulf of Mexico Sunday night, exposing buoys that Overton said are normally about 75 yards back from the shoreline.

"It was about the size of a football field that you could walk on," Overton said.

By Monday morning, waves were crashing along the shore, which was noticeably free of much debris.

Up and down Gulf Blvd., most signs and buildings remained intact. Windows held strong. Trees stood tall. Detour signs from construction near Corey Avenue were busted open, but construction barriers remained in place.

Meanwhile, the Jackson family was relieved after waking up Monday morning.

"I feel lucky," said Jeremy Jackson, 42. "We were prepared for a direct hit and to be without power for days."

Several downed limbs covered the Jackson's St. Petersburg yard, but the house seemed to otherwise sustain minimal damage. Jared, 10, in his DJ Kitty Rays onesie looked at the large limbs with interest. His little sister, Lauren, 7, stayed back, wrapped in a blanket.

The Jacksons still had power, but other blocks in the Harshaw neighborhood weren't so lucky.

"I'm still not ready to admit what happened," Jennifer Jackson, 40, said. "I don't want to jinx it."

According to a tweet by the city of St. Petersburg, a curfew has been lifted but officials want to encourage residents to stay off the roads as long as possible while crews assess damage.

Meanwhile, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn tweeted that a curfew in the city was lifted as of 8 a.m. but urged residents to proceed with caution and be aware of potential downed power lines.

As one more means of sharing information, we have created a Facebook discussion group called Hurricane Irma — Tampa Bay.

Click here to join the group and invite your friends to join as well. We also encourage you to share your photos and observations of the storm and its aftermath on that page, and in the comments below.

This is a developing story. Stay with tampabay.com for updates.

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