Irma rakes Cuba as Category 5 hurricane

Irma Makes Landfall, Lashes at Southern Florida
Hurricane makes second Florida landfall
Author

13 September, 2017

Once a powerful Category 5, Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm Monday but it was still lashing Florida with winds and floodwaters.

With about 3 million people, the Tampa Bay metropolitan area is the second-most populous in the state.

Gov. Rick Scott, who spent the days before the storm hit beseeching the islands' residents to evacuate, said Monday that he is flying down to the Keys to survey the damage.

Trump has offered the full resources of the federal government to Florida and the affected states.

Also, more than 70 percent of the customers of the two largest electric utilities in Florida were without power, according to the State Emergency Response Team.

The storm "significantly damaged" the Cost-U-Less store in St. Maarten and it's not clear how long it will be closed, CEO Edward Kennedy said in a media release.

The storm has weakened to a tropical depression, but was still dropping heavy rains in parts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky on Tuesday.

Jose, with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph, was about 85 miles north-northeast of the northern Leeward Islands around 5 p.m. ET. As Mexico braced for Hurricane Katia, which followed a different path to Irma and Jose, the South-Eastern coast of Mexico was hit by a much greater menace, an 8.1 magnitude natural disaster that left 61 people dead, half of the fatalities were in Juchitan.

"There's devastation", he said, adding that virtually every mobile-home park on the island chain was left upended.

Hurricane Irma hit southwest Florida on Sunday, downing power lines, uprooting trees and turning streets into rivers.

"No matter where you went everything was a standstill, and I wasn't going to take my family out and sit them on a highway", Witt said.

"We're still in that mode where we need to be very vigilant about what's going on", said D'Aleo.

Monroe County opened road access on Tuesday morning for residents and business owners from Key Largo, the main island at the upper end of the chain, as well as the towns of Tavernier and Islamorada farther to the south, fire officials said.

"It's disgusting, what we saw", Scott said.

The Keys are linked by 42 bridges that have to be checked for safety before motorists can be allowed in, officials said. As of last night, 13 million Floridians had lost electrical power - a stunning 62% of the state's population.

The State Department said Monday that USA embassies and consulates have reopened in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Bahamas, Barbados and Curaçao, although services were limited.

Ferguson reported from Jacksonville.


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