6.5 million Florida Homes powerless after Hurricane Irma

About 6.5 million homes in Florida, two-thirds of the total, are without power after Hurricane Irma cut a deadly path through the state, officials say.

Relief operations are under way and engineers are working to restore power, but many areas remain stranded.

The islands of the Florida Keys and western parts of the US state bore the brunt of the category-four hurricane.

Irma hit Florida on Sunday and weakened to a tropical storm before becoming a tropical depression early on Tuesday.

The storm was downgraded as it moved north towards Atlanta, with maximum sustained winds of 56km/h (35mph) later recorded, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said in a statement.

The statement added that while heavy rain was expected to continue across south-eastern states, all storm surge and tropical storm warnings had been discontinued.

Media reports link at least four deaths to the storm in Florida. Last week it killed at least 37 persons, White House Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert said it will be some time before residents in the Florida Keys are able to return to their homes.

“I would expect that the Keys are not fit for re-entry for regular citizenry for weeks”, he said.

Speaking as he went on an aerial tour of the Keys, Florida Governor Rick Scott said: “Power lines are down throughout the state. We’ve got roads that are impassable, so everybody’s got to be patient as we work through this.”

Although Miami was spared the worst, large parts of the city are under water. Winds have snapped power lines and 72% of homes there are without electricity, officials say.

On the west coast of Florida, a town on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico about 125 miles (200km) to the north-west, shows rows of shattered suburban homes on streets under water.

President Donald Trump has released emergency federal aid for Florida, describing the hurricane as a “big monster”.

Some 6.3 million people in the state were told to evacuate before Irma arrived.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Miami International Airport were closed on Monday.

Night-time curfews have been imposed in areas such as Miami, where 13 people were arrested on suspicion of looting.

“We feel the building swaying all the time,” restaurant owner Deme Lomas told Reuters news agency by phone from his 35th-floor apartment in Miami.

 

 

  

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