As the eye of Hurricane Irma passes directly over Naples, Fla., the real destruction is just beginning as what's called the eyewall - typically the most devastating part of the storm - moves directly overhead.

Meteorologists had warned that a dangerous “storm surge” would rock Naples and much of the state’s southwestern coast as the eye of the storm moves northward, potentially causing water levels in the city to rise as high as 15 feet…

 

…Well, it looks like the surge has been even more intense than experts and authorities had expected: The water in Naples has risen an astonishing seven feet in just 90 minutes, according to a NOAA tide gauge. The surge has been driven by sustained winds of 110 mph, and gusts as strong as 142 mph recorded at the Naples Municipal Airport.

The water is rising much more quickly than expected...

 

 

Earlier, the NHC - not to mention Gov. Rick Scott - warned residents about the possibility that water levels could climb rapidly.

Irma has picked up speed and is moving inland at 14 mph (22 kph) and its eye is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south southeast of Fort Myers. According to CNN, the storm is expected to track along the western coast, clipping Fort Myers before making its way to Tampa.

Hurricane Irma should be moving directly over the Tampa Bay area around midnight. Residents of the highly populated area are fearing the worst. A report by CoreLogic, the global property data firm, found nearly 455,000 Tampa Bay homes could be damaged by the storm surge - the most of any major US metro area other than Miami and New York, according to the Associated Press. Rebuilding those homes could cost up to $81 billion. The reason that the damage is so severe is because the bay acts as a funnel for storm surges.


 

Images from inside the city show streets completely flooded and the lower floors of houses underwater.