Key Largo residents return home after Irma devastation

Editorial: Vigilance is key in recovering from Irma

Power outages from Hurricane Irma in Florida and nearby states declined to about 6.9 million customers on Tuesday from a peak over 7.4 million late Monday as utilities organized one of the biggest restoration efforts in US history.

Six deaths in Florida have been blamed on Hurricane Irma so far, along with three in Georgia and one in SC and at least 38 people were killed in the Caribbean.

Mayor Lenny Curry said Irma hit the city with a storm surge like a Category 3 hurricane, even though its winds were at tropical-storm level when it reached northeast Florida.

Tensions flared Wednesday afternoon at a police checkpoint as frustrated Florida Keys residents ran into a checkpoint in Islamorada blocking them from going to their homes in the Middle and Lower Keys.

The Keys are home to almost 70,000 people, some in luxury beachfront homes while some 13 per cent live in poverty. Jacksonville experienced its worst flooding since 1864. The hardest hit areas, according to Georgia Power, were DeKalb Fulton, Clayton, Gwinnett, and Hall counties where, as of 10 p.m. Tuesday, more than 184,000 customers were without power. It destroyed about one-third of the buildings on the Dutch-ruled portion of St Martin Island, the Dutch Red Cross said on Tuesday.

In a statement, the Department of Meteorology in the Bahamas said the US National Hurricane Centre is advising that based on its latest models, when Hurricane Jose completes it loop on Friday, it will be pointed more towards the Carolinas and Virginia, USA. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew caused $27 billion in damage. More than 350 people had to be rescued, he said.

No timetable was given for reopening the remainder of the Keys, which are linked by a series of causeways and bridges down to Key West, a popular tourist spot on the southern tip of Florida.

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After record flooding from Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Texas earlier this month, Trump made two visits, first to Corpus Christi and Austin on August 29 and later to Houston on September 2. Key West International Airport and Florida Keys Marathon will remain closed to commercial service until electricity and water have been restored. That's more than the population of NY and Los Angeles combined.

The governor said it was way too early to put a dollar estimate on the damage.

Several of the deaths caused by Irma came as people started cleaning up and making repairs. But for Sunday and Monday, the forecast cone that pointed this way as of Tuesday now suggests the Category 1 storm will head back out to sea. We have downed power lines all across the state.

Four people died in SC and three in Georgia, officials said.

The National Weather Service (NWS) continues to issue flood warnings for parts of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina as of Wednesday.

In the coming days and months, we will help our neighbors, our business community, our churches and schools restore what has been lost.

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