Tampa mayor: 'We are about to get punched in the face' by Hurricane Irma


Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn did not mince words when he described what Hurricane Irma would do to his city: "We're about to get punched in the face by this storm."

The latest advisory from the National Weather Service has Irma causing life-threatening storm surges down Florida southwest coast that could cause flooding and rising waters. Earlier on Sunday, Irma made landfall in the in the Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm. Buckhorn says Tampa hasn't seen this type of storm in almost a century.

In July, a report from the Washington Post said the city wasn't prepared for a large hurricane – if big storm made a direct hit on Tampa, the damage would likely be greater than Hurricane Katrina. According to the report:
"Tampa Bay is mesmerizing, with 700 miles of shoreline and some of the finest white sand beaches in the nation. But analysts say the metropolitan area is the most vulnerable in the United States to flooding and damage if a major hurricane ever scores a direct hit.

A Boston firm that analyzes potential catastrophic damage reported that the region would lose $175 billion in a storm the size of Hurricane Katrina. A World Bank study called Tampa Bay one of the 10 most at-risk areas on the globe.

Yet the bay area — greater Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater — has barely begun to assess the rate of sea-level rise and address its effects. Its slow response to a major threat is a case study in how American cities reluctantly prepare for the worst, even though signs of impacts from climate change abound all around."
On Sunday afternoon, it looked like Irma had already started sucking away the water from beaches in the Tampa Bay region.

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