Florida's City-by-City Irma Recovery: Toll Rises to 8
September 12, 2017
Tuesday the death toll climbed to eight in Florida, which is still reeling from the impacts of Hurricane Irma, from major flooding in Jacksonville to masses of debris covering most of Marco Island south of Naples.
The most recent deaths occurred when a family of three died in an Orange County home in what officials believe is a case of carbon monoxide poisoning, FOX35Orlando.com reports. Deputies say there was a generator running inside of the home, where two people were found indoors and one person who tried to get out was discovered on the front lawn. The authorities said they immediately smelled gasoline fumes upon entering the house.
Irma is responsible for at least five other deaths in Florida, including two deaths in Hardee County, one death Orange County, one in St. Johns County and one in Winter Park.
President Donald Trump will visit Florida Thursday to see the impacts of the storm, according to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. It's not yet clear which areas he will visit.
Florida's Division of Emergency Management reported Tuesday morning that more than 5 million customers didn't have electricity. That's more than half of the state. The number of actual people affected is likely much higher since utilities are reporting the number of accounts affected by outages.
Here are the latest impacts around the Sunshine State.
Officials in the upper Florida Keys are allowing residents and business owners to return after Hurricane Irma.
People were able to return to Monroe County as of 7 a.m. EDT Tuesday.
In a Facebook posting, Monroe County officials said a yellow re-entry sticker or proof of residency or business ownership will be required.
County officials said a roadblock will be put around mile marker 74, where part of U.S. 1 was washed out by Hurricane Irma, which slammed into the state Sunday as a Category 4 storm. A road crew is expected to begin repairs Tuesday.
Officials warned returning residents that there are limited services available. Most areas are still without power and water and cellphone service is limited. Most gas stations in the Key Largo area are still closed.
Crews are working to clear U.S. 1, the only road that runs north/south through the Florida Keys.
County officials also said Mariners Hospital in Tavernier was expected to reopen Tuesday morning.
The fate of the Florida Keys, where Irma rumbled through with Category 4 muscle, remains largely a question mark. Communication and access were cut and authorities dangled only vague assessments of ruinous impact.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott called the storm "devastating" after emerging from a Monday fly-over of the Keys.
A Navy aircraft carrier was due to anchor off Key West to help in search-and-rescue efforts.
The governor described overturned mobile homes, washed-ashore boats and rampant flood damage.
Evacuation orders have been lifted for parts of Jacksonville, a day after Irma prompted 350 water rescues across the city.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry lifted the mandatory evacuation order for Zones A and B, areas where the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office was urging residents "Get out NOW" on Monday. The mayor said in a news conference Tuesday morning that rebuilding is well underway.
"We'll get there," Curry said.
The most severe storm surge happened in downtown, Riverside and San Marco neighborhoods.
"We lost everything we own, just about," resident Vera Dupuis, 82, told the Associated Press. She said her husband, who has Alzheimer's disease and other health issues, began crying Monday as floodwaters began to pour into their apartment in a senior citizen's building, ruining almost everything they had collected through 65 years of marriage.
"He said 'look at all of our stuff,'" said Dupuis. "I said, 'as long as we're OK, we won't care about the stuff. But he's 88; he wants to keep stuff like it is. It just can't be like it was after a hurricane like this. It's just never going to be the same."
Water levels were trending downward Tuesday, said weather.com meteorologist Christopher Dolce, but high tides will cause decreasing peaks in flood levels until at least Thursday.
Around 280,000 were without power in the city at the peak of Irma News 4 Jax reports, but JEA CEO Paul McElroy said there are 500 crews out working to restore power.
Curry says his city has the money it needs to begin rebuilding after Hurricane Irma. He says it can begin rebuilding as it works with the federal and state governments to secure additional funding.
Curry says he doesn't have an estimate for what it will cost to repair the damage.
Marco Island, where Irma made landfall on mainland Florida, is open according to the city's police department. Power had been restored to some areas of the island by Tuesday, but the water was still out.
Marco Island Fire-Rescue Chief Mike Murphy estimated the island was hit with 3 to 4 ft. storm surges and MIPD Capt. Dave Baer confirmed that there were parts of the island that had 1 to 2 feet of standing water after Irma passed Sunday night.
The city said in a statement Monday that many roads were still blocked by debris or flooding. Photos of the area show trees uprooted and debris littering the streets.
In Naples, where the airport recorded a 142 mph gust – the highest recorded in Florida – residents were being allowed to return home Tuesday
Most downtown Naples streets will be cleared of debris by then, City Manager Bill Moss told the Naples Daily News.
Some streets remained blocked because of downed power lines, Moss said, and a scattering of traffic signals are also out.
Downed trees, dangling power lines and road debris were still scattered over the city Tuesday.
The airport resumed some flights.
Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, which escaped major damaged, announced they would reopened Tuesday.
The University of Central Florida received minor damage. Saturday night's football game agains Georgia Tech has been canceled because of the recovery efforts being coordinated from the school's stadium.
And about 4 a.m. Monday, a lake in west Orange County’s Orlo Vista neighborhood overflowed leading to flooding, the Orlando Sentinel reports. Orange County firefighters and members of the National Guard pulled more than 200 people from 500 homes and took them to local shelters.
Tuesday city officials were working to evacuate people from two buildings next to a condo with a downed crane on top of it, the Miami Herald reports.
The machine was on top of the Gran Paraiso luxury tower when it was blown over during Irma, along with two other cranes on separate buildings, according to the Herald. None of the cranes fell or struck nearby buildings, but three counterweights from the Gran Paraiso crane fell to the street and became embedded several inches into the concrete.
Officials in Miami Beach allowed residents to return to their homes Tuesday morning after Hurricane Irma pounded Florida with wind and rain. A long line of cars amassed on Interstate 195 at 6:55 a.m. Tuesday, waiting for the road blocks to be taken down.
The entryways have been blocked since Sunday night so crews could remove numerous downed branches from main arteries and clear debris.To re-enter the beach, residents must show a state ID or other proof of residency.
The airport for Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has re-opened Tuesday morning after closing as Hurricane Irma pounded the state.
Operations at the airport resumed at 4 a.m. EDT, but a check of the airport's website Tuesday morning showed many flights still canceled.
Operations resumed at Miami International Airport Tuesday with an American Airlines flight at about 7 a.m. The airport expects to operate at 30 percent of its usual number of flights Tuesday, MIA said. The airport expects to see that percentage increase daily until it reaches full operations — possibly by this weekend.
Miami-Dade and Broward schools are closed until further notice. The University of Miami will resume classes Monday, but Florida International University and Miami Dade College is closed until further notice.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said Monday that while the city hasn't escaped Irma's wrath, the situation isn't as bad as they feared it would be.
"A glancing blow," Buckhorn told the Tampa Bay Times.
Hundreds of downed trees blocked roads and snagged power lines, knocking out electricity for hundreds of thousands, the paper said. Winds tore the canopies off some gas stations. Suburban streets swelled into lakes. But no major injuries were reported locally, let alone any deaths. Irma's winds clawed off most of the steeple from a small church on Nebraska Avenue and stripped a Madeira Beach apartment of its roof, spitting it onto a car.
At St. Petersburg Marina, six boats sank and one became lodged under a dock.
Not bad for a hurricane, port manager Walt Miller said.
As of Tuesday morning, about 300 traffic lights were estimated to be out in Pinellas County, according to the Sheriff's Office. Estimates from other counties were not immediately available, but hundreds of others are out all across Tampa Bay.
Tampa International Airport resumed operations on Tuesday morning and hopes to be back to a full schedule Wednesday. The St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport reopened Monday afternoon. Flights are scheduled to resume Wednesday.
Busch Gardens will remain closed Tuesday, but is expected to open Wednesday. "What we thought was going to be a punch in the face was a glancing blow," he said Monday morning on MSNBC.
Residents were allowed to return to Pinellas County Monday morning, WFLA.com reports. The county was sealed off by Sheriff Bob Gualteri after the storm moved through so officials could assess damage and determine how safe the area was.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host the Chicago Bears on Sunday as originally planned, the team announced.
– Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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