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With Hurricane Irma continually shifting westward and now projected to move up the Gulf Coast side of the Florida peninsula, the storm forecast for the Columbus area is growing more serious. Many millions of people have already been evacuated, so their lives have already been affected and they have incurred costs of one sort or another.

Despite officials calling for more than 6 million people in Florida and Georgia to evacuate in advance of Irma's storm surge and fierce winds, some around Florida are choosing to stay, a rite of passage for many in the state who boast about the storms they weathered: Camille, Andrew, Katrina and others.

Irma's projected path has shifted west over the past two days and is now forecast to hug the western coast of Florida as it nears Georgia.

Then, Irma will dump heavy rain in Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

At least two people were killed in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, and more than half of its three million residents were without power after rivers broke their banks in the centre and north of the island. Officials warned it could take weeks for electricity to be restored to everyone. Now the area has around 3 million people. "To the public in their homes who are trying to ride out this storm, we urge you to not get on the roads until you have been given clearance by everyone who is required to give clearance". "I just don't know".

Insurance experts began offering projections Monday for the total cost of the storm's damage, with initial estimates running in the range of $20 billion to $50 billion.

He said severe weather in the western part of the state could lead to localized flooding and landslides, especially since wildfires burned through the mountains past year.

SC is already feeling tropical force winds and gusts.

Around the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, where Irma rolled through early Monday, damage appeared modest.

More news: Jose spares Barbuda as hurricane veers away from island wrecked by Irma

"It's seen its share of hurricanes", Palmer said.

Authorities sent an aircraft carrier and other Navy ships to help with search-and-rescue operations.

Forecasters said metro Atlanta could expect peak winds of 30-40 miles per hour (50 to 65 kph) and gusts up to 55 miles per hour (90 kph) on Monday, with a likelihood of falling limbs and trees blocking roadways and snapping power lines. There may be higher gusts, forecasters have said. "You've got to be patient". "A t-shirt, anything white", the office said on its Facebook page.

A tornado spun off by Irma was reported on the Georgia coast, and firefighters inland had to rescue several people after trees fell on their homes.

"It does NOT represent the size of the storm!" the meteorology service warned, explaining that the tropical system only falls within the cone two-thirds of the time.

- More than 1.4 million customers in Georgia were without power, according to Georgia Power and Georgia EMC. The governor also ordered that the state government be shut Monday and Tuesday "for all employees except essential personnel".

People in the heavily populated Tampa-St.

The Tampa area has not taken a direct hit from a major hurricane in almost a century. Irma was ranked a Category 5, the rare top end of the scale of hurricane intensity, for days, and carried maximum sustained winds of up to 185 miles per hour (295 kph) when it crashed into the island of Barbuda on Wednesday.