NBC Boston in Florida: The Residents Deal With Irma

NBC Boston meteorologist Chris Gloninger is in Florida as the state deals with the anticipated destruction from Hurricane Irma. 

On Sunday, the winds were strong enough to cause a power outage at the hotel in Punta Gorda where Gloninger was staying. Floridians at the hotel went without power and without food, hunkering down for the duration of the storm.

The lights went out Sunday around 6:00 p.m. Groups of strangers made friends, riding out the storm together. An impromptu get together of people and dogs at the hotel raised spirits. The storm has been tracked further inland, meaning that the surge potential is a lot less. Gloninger predicts it will be less than six feet. Seventy to eighty mile per hour winds continue to wreck the area, but the worst of the storm was over for the Southwestern coast of Florida.

On Sunday morning, Gloninger was experiencing tropical storm force wind gusts, around 48mph at 10am Sunday. The wind is forcing the water back out to the Atlantic, but it will come raging back as the storm surge moves in as Irma makes her way north of the area. Hurricane force winds will likely arrive Sunday evening.

They are watching the eyewall very closely to see if it makes a pass there or a little bit farther down south by Naples.

Gloninger and NBC Boston photographer Cary Patton reported from Punta Gorda, on the west coast of Florida late Saturday night.

Wind gusts reached 40 mph and residents were weary of the coming hurricane force winds and the potential storm surge.

People in that area are familiar with devastating hurricanes, as Punta Gorda was the epicenter for Hurricane Charley in 2004. 

Gloninger spoke with area residents who sought shelter in the Four Points Hotel, which the hotel general manager called the, "safest place in town."

With Irma making its way to Florida, people there are preparing for the worst.

Many in Florida are leaving, with even Disney World shutting down. But many others will be staying home and braving the storm.

Some of those who remained Friday night took part in a Floridian tradition — a hurricane party at a local bar.

Shudders can be seen on buildings and homes in coastal regions.

The race is on to get out of the storm's path, making flights to get out of town hard to come by.

Although it had weakened slightly by Thursday morning, Irma was still a Category 5 storm with winds of 180 mph.

Preparation for Irma is well underway in Miami's South Beach area as people flocked to grocery stores and gas stations for last-minute supplies.

People at Miami International Airport experienced delayed or cancelled flights, lost luggage, and long waits.

"We all know we're not leaving Miami, but we're not getting our bags," said one disgruntled Florida resident.

Irma has already devastated several Caribbean islands

Chief meteorologist John Morales at NBC Miami warns that Irma could pack "extreme surge," unlike previous storms with have hit Florida's coast.

"It's the usual thing here in Florida. When you have a natural disaster, this is the result of it," Eric Viera said as he was waiting in line to pump gas.

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