A New Zealander taking refuge from Hurricane Irma has shot dramatic footage of rising floodwaters and swirling winds as the storm surge turns streets into rivers.

Tony Meredith has captured the ferocity and terror of the category two hurricane as it carved a destructive path through Florida today.

From the safety of the seventh floor in a Miami apartment building, Meredith filmed the storm-strength wind swirling violently between high-rise buildings and driving floodwater through the city streets.

He said while the worst of the storm had passed over southeast Florida, winds continued to batter the city.


Thoughts were now turning to the big clean up with trees and debris scattered everywhere.

A Kiwi family who shifted to Florida after the Christchurch earthquake is now holed up in their local hospital riding out the hurricane.

Joanne and Mitchell Gash did their best to safeguard their family home on Jensen Beach, halfway between Miami and Orlando, before seeking refuge at the hospital where Joanne works as an occupational therapist.

"[It's] really starting up now with bands of rain and tornadoes," said Mitchell Gash.

The family home has been boarded up and the trampoline pegged down but with winds up to 300km/h their fingers are crossed it and the pool are still in the backyard when they and their two boys Albie, 8, and Tavi, 7, can finally return home.

Slightly further north at Satellite Beach, a barrier island, the Hircock family home has also been boarded up.

Ainslie Hircock moved to the US in 2010 from Upper Hutt and has been in Florida for three years with her husband Cody, who is in the US Air Force, based at Cape Canaveral.

They have evacuated and while they are mentally prepared for the worst they are hoping for good news when they can return home.

"Because of our home's proximity to the beach we are sure it's going to get flooded, if not demolished," said Hircock.


"We moved items that we could, packed what we could into two cars and made sure we had things for the animals as well."

The couple is riding out the storm in a hotel room north of Orlando with their dog and two cats. - additional reporting NZ Newswire