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Videos, photos show Hurricane Idalia damage as storm inundates Florida: "Our entire downtown is submerged"

Hurricane Idalia caused heavy damage to Florida's Gulf Coast early Wednesday as the storm brought strong winds, rain and dangerous flooding to the streets from Tampa to Tallahassee. 

Around 4:50 p.m. local time, Idalia was downgraded to a tropical storm, according to the National Hurricane Center, while the risk of freshwater flooding, storm surge and wind remains as it crosses portions of Georgia and the Carolinas.

Two people, a 59-year-old Gainsville man and a 40-year-old Spring Hill man, were killed Wednesday when they lost control of their vehicles while out driving during the storm, the Florida Highway Patrol said in a news release. 

When the storm made landfall, at around 7:45 a.m. ET, it was a Category 3 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center, packing "catastrophic storm surge and damaging winds." Around 10 a.m. local time, it weakened to a Category 2 storm before further weakening to a Category 1 hurricane around noon. In a 12:30 p.m. press conference, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the eye of the storm had left Florida, but storm surge was expected to continue and worsen as the tide rose later in the day.

Hurricane Idalia Slams Into Florida's Gulf Coast
Makatla Ritchter, left, and her mother, Keiphra Line,  wade through flood waters after having to evacuate their home during Hurricane Idalia on August 30, 2023, in Tarpon Springs, Florida.  Getty Images

More than 254,000 customers were without power in north Florida as of 5:30 p.m., according to the tracking site  Restoration efforts are ongoing, DeSantis said. About 262,000 people who lost power have already had power restored as of 12:30 p.m., he said.

Tropical Weather
A City of Tallahassee electrical worker assesses damage to power lines after a tree fell as Hurricane Idalia made landfall. Phil Sears / AP

In Cedar Key, an island city of just about 700 people, storm surge poured through the streets. The area was under a mandatory evacuation order. The city's fire department shared a video that showed water rushing through dark streets as more rain poured down. The department said that things were "going downhill fast" and noted that the power is out in the area. 

In a second video, the department said the tide is expected to keep coming in until noon, and said that "most of the streets around the downtown are underwater." The strength of the storm is keeping first responders from seeing "how bad things are." A later video showed downed trees and rushing water, and photos show further destruction. 

Two videos posted by a man in Cedar Key showed water coming down side streets at around 5 a.m. local time. 

"It's going to swallow up the whole town," said Michael Presley Bobbitt, the man filming. 

The water just keeps coming. Pray for Cedar key.

Posted by Michael Presley Bobbitt on Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Later photos and videos from Bobbitt showed scattered debris, downed tree branches and water continuing to travel down side streets. Bobbitt said in the caption that the water had reached his backyard.

"Our entire downtown is submerged," he wrote. "Houses everywhere are submerged."

In Tallahassee, a 100-year-old oak tree fell on the governor's mansion. Casey DeSantis, the wife of the governor, said on social media that she and her three children had been home at the time, but "thankfully no one was injured." She shared a photo showing the tree split down the middle with branches draped over part of the mansion and parked cars. In his news conference, Gov. DeSantis said he had been informed of the incident about 45 minutes earlier. 

Photos showed flood waters filling the streets in Tarpon Springs, just north of Clearwater, up the coast from Tampa Bay.

Hurricane Idalia Slams Into Florida's Gulf Coast
Reporters wade through flood waters inundating the downtown area after Hurricane Idalia passed offshore on August 30, 2023, in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Getty Images

In Clearwater, another area that had been under mandatory evacuation, officials said the storm surge was causing "strain" on the city's stormwater system. Residents who did not evacuate were told to restrict water and toilet usage. Photos show high water and a partially flooded street. 

Hurricane Idalia Slams Into Florida's Gulf Coast
A person canoes through the flooded streets caused by Hurricane Idalia on August 30, 2023, in Tarpon Springs, Florida.  Getty Images

In St. Petersburg, police said they had to rescue a person from flooding at a mobile home park. A video shared by the department shows water reaching the hood of a car in the coastal city. 

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said overnight that there had been about "3-4 feet" of flooding on a street of St. Pete Beach, another coastal city.

Hurricane Idalia Slams Into Florida's Gulf Coast
Ken Kruse looks out at the flood waters from Hurricane Idalia surrounding his apartment complex on August 30, 2023, in Tarpon Springs, Florida. / Getty Images

A video taken in New Port Richey, a city in Florida's Pasco County, shows cars driving through water that reaches their headlights. The person who took the video said it was taken about one and a half miles inland, and at low tide. High tide is expected in the area in the early afternoon. 

Treasure Island, a city located on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, has closed its bridges and will not be accessible for hours, officials said on social media. "Significant flooding" was expected, and photos showed water reaching park benches. 

Photos and videos from the Tampa International Airport showed flooding and empty tarmac. In a statement, the airport said that there was water on the south end of the airfield, but that runways were not impacted. The airport "did well" in face of the storm, the statement said. The airport is expected to reopen to arrivals at around 4 p.m. today. Other airports in the hurricane's path had also closed due to the weather. 

Red Cross deploys hundreds of volunteers to help with Hurricane Idalia relief 02:26
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