HURRICANE Irma roared through the Florida Keys yesterday with punishing 130mph winds and began pushing its way north, knocking out power to more than 1.5 million people across the state and collapsing a construction crane over the Miami skyline.

The nearly 400-mile-wide storm is expected to have made a slow, ruinous march up Florida’s west coast by this morning, straight toward the heavily populated Tampa-St Petersburg area.

Streets emptied across the bottom half of the Florida peninsula, and some 127,000 people huddled in shelters.

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“Pray, pray for everybody in Florida,” Governor Rick Scott said yesterday.

Flooding, roof damage and floating appliances and furniture were reported in the low-lying Keys, but with the storm still hitting around midday, the full extent of Irma’s wrath was not clear.

At least four people are known to have been killed by the storm.

While the projected track showed Irma raking the state’s Gulf Coast, forecasters warned that the entire state, including the Miami metropolitan area of six million people, was in extreme peril from the monstrously wide storm.

Nearly seven million people in the southeast were warned to get out of harm’s way, including 6.4 million in Florida alone.

About 30,000 people heeded orders to evacuate the Keys as the storm closed in, but an untold number refused to leave, in part because to many storm-hardened residents, staying behind in the face of danger is a point of pride.

John Huston, who was riding out the storm at his Key Largo home, was already seeing flooding in his yard before the arrival of high tide. “Small boats floating down the street next to furniture and refrigerators. Very noisy,” he said by text message. Shingles are coming off.”

In Miami, one of two dozen construction cranes looming over the skyline collapsed onto a high-rise in Irma’s winds. It was not immediately clear whether the incident caused any injuries. Emergency personnel were unable to respond because of high winds.