A resident surveys the rising water in his neighbourhood as winds and storm surge. Photograph:( Getty )
Winds and rain from Hurricane Hermine battered Florida’s northern Gulf Coast on Friday morning.
Florida governor Rick Scott has warned that Hermine, a category 1 hurricane, would bring in a potentially lethal storm.
The hurricane hit Florida packing winds of 80 mph (130 km/h).
Several areas in Florida have reported 5 inches (12 cm) of rain since the storm hit the coast at 1.30am (Eastern Time).
The strong winds snapped power lines in the region, leaving more than 70,000 households in Tallahassee and thousands more along the coast in the dark
As of 3:00am Hurricane Hermine is 25 miles east of Tallahassee, moving North/Northeast at 14 mph.— Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) September 2, 2016
"It is a mess...we have high water in numerous places," Virgil Sandlin, the police chief in Cedar Key, Florida, told the Weather Channel. "I was here in 1985 for Hurricane Elena and I don't recall anything this bad."
"Hurricane Hermine is strengthening fast and it will impact the majority of our state," Governor Rick Scott told a Florida-based news channel.
The National Weather Service has issued several tornado warnings for communities throughout northern Florida after the National Hurricane Center extended a tropical storm watch to Sandy Hook, New Jersey.
Hermine is the fourth hurricane of the 2016 Atlantic storm season.
The State Emergency Response Team (SERT) also advised people to remain indoors.
Hermine made landfall at 1:30 AM ET near St. Marks, FL. Severe weather conditions continue, stay indoors! #alert https://t.co/6S7GwLbHOQ
— Florida SERT (@FLSERT) September 2, 2016
Hermine is expected to dump as much as 20 inches (51 cm) of rain in some parts of the state. Ocean storm surge could swell as high as 12 feet (3.6 meters).
After battering Florida, the hurricane would move across to Georgia and then towards the coastal regions on the Atlantic.
The governors of Georgia and North Carolina on Thursday declared emergencies in the affected regions.
In South Carolina, the low-lying coastal city of Charleston was handing out sandbags.
Scott declared a state of emergency in 51 of Florida's 67 counties, and at least 20 counties closed schools.
FL National Guard has more than 6,000 personnel ready. FWC has operations groups standing by with boats & search and rescue equipment.— Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) September 2, 2016
Mandatory evacuations were ordered in parts of five counties in northwestern Florida, with voluntary evacuations in at least three more counties. Twenty emergency shelters were opened across the state for those displaced by the storm.
"This is life-threatening," Scott told reporters on Thursday.
In coastal Franklin County, people were being evacuated from barrier islands and low-lying shore areas.
(WION with inputs from Reuters)