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Orlando area spared worst of storm but faces tornadoes
Lisa Stephens and her granddaughter Nanessa Anderson load their car with supplies and important paperwork moments before evacuating St. Petersburg, Fla., for Orlando ahead of Hurricane Irma. (Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

Hurricane Irma jogged west, sparing the Orlando area the worst. Still, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs was worried.

In her “last opportunity to address the public before heavy rains come and we lose power,” she warned residents to be aware of the tornadoes Irma will spawn. The county is at a high risk of getting twisters from the storms outer band of wind, and alerts beeped frequently in Orange and Osceola counties Sunday.

“If you have signs of a tornado approaching, get to a safe place,” Jacobs said.

To punctuate the concern, she said: “Anything on your property that could become airborne, we’re asking you to tie it down or bring it in. These items can clearly become life-threatening to you and your neighbors.”

Jacobs turned the microphone over to the stern-looking county sheriff, Jerry Demings, who advised people to stay off the roads regardless of the county’s relative safety. Fatalities happen when trees fall on people and victims contact fallen power lines.

Most of all, Demings said, anyone outdoors might come in contact with one of his deputies, who are on the lookout for looters. He issued a warning for anyone who looks suspicious. “If you’re out, we’re going to stop you, detain you and probably arrest you. The best you can do is stay at home, stay indoors and off the roads.”

Hurricane Irma: Storm moves north after pounding Florida
Heavy winds and rain are seen in Miami on Sunday. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Irma, the record-setting hurricane that devastated islands across the Caribbean, has been churning north through Florida — and has turned its sights on Georgia.

Visit the Capital Weather Gang’s live updates page for more on the storm.

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