Miami hospitals prepare for surge in births during Hurricane Irma

MSNBC's Kerry Sanders reporting on Hurricane Irma

In the days before Irma hit a Florida mum gave birth to her baby just before the monster storm hit.

"Our cranes are still weather vane-ing", Whiteman said. "They could have taken those cranes down, and Miami could have said 'take them down, ' but nobody wants to give that order".

The city identified two dozen tower cranes working on construction sites as a concern ahead of Irma. Maurice Pons, deputy director of the city's building department, said in a statement then that he "would not advise" riding out the storm near one of the cranes.

Tower cranes are hundreds of feet tall, and their counterbalances can weigh as much as 30,000 pounds. Getting back would be as hard as getting out, she said, since USA 1 is the island chain's only link to the mainland.

The major exception, Whiteman said, is if a tornado forms, which "virtually nothing" would be able to withstand.

Though 180 kilometres from Irma's landfall in the Florida Keys, hurricane-force winds from the 400-mile-wide storm were being felt through the Miami area.

Weeks after Hurricane Harvey dumped enough rain on Houston to turn it into an ocean, Hurricane Irma has driven parts of the Atlantic Ocean into downtown Miami.

Video footage from Miami shows a frightening scene, with howling winds tearing through the city's streets and whipping the rising flood waters into a frothy river.

Now downtown Miami is flooded and the Keys have been slammed hard.

Flooding can be seen on Brickell Avenue in Miami, Fla. due to Irma Sunday. In 2005, Hurricane Wilma's Category 2 winds blew out windows in new Miami high-rises that met the updated code.

Castor was raised in Miami, and Mastropaolo said she weathered Sandy and other storms on Long Island.

The National Hurricane Centre said Irma's winds were at 177 km/h, just below major hurricane status, as the centre of the still risky and wide storm moved farther inland late today.

Boak reported from Washington, D.C.

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