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Irma leaves wake of destruction in Florida

  • Olga Teakell hugs her grandson Gabriel Melendez, 9, after he cut his finger on glass, while he and his bother Ellisha Melendez, 12, left, help clean debris from Olga's destroyed home, in the Naples Estates mobile home park, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which passed through yesterday, in Naples, Fla., Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) Gerald Herbert

  • A large tree split open by the winds of Hurricane Irma is seen at the Salvation Army headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, Monday, Sept. 11, 2017....SOUTH FLORIDA OUT; NO MAGS; NO SALES; NO INTERNET; NO TV... JOE CAVARETTA

  • Kenny Crippen, walks past debris into his home where he rode out Hurricane Irma on Plantation Island, Fla., Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. "I've never run from any storm," said Crippen who has lived in the Everglades for 30 years. "I'm rooted here. I'm not leaving." (AP Photo/David Goldman) David Goldman

  • Kids play among fallen oak trees in the Dommerich Estates neighborhood in Maitland Fla., Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, after Hurricane Irma's passing through central Florida, Sunday night. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel) Joe Burbank

  • A resident steps on rubble at his collapsed apartment building where two people died during the passing of Hurricane Irma in Havana, Cuba, Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. Cuban state media reported 10 deaths despite the country's usually rigorous disaster preparations. More than 1 million were evacuated from flood-prone areas. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan) Desmond Boylan

  • A house slides into the Atlantic Ocean in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., on Monday. Florida Times-Union via AP

  • A sailboat crashed and smashed at the Dinner Key Marina in Miami. Mike Stocker, South Florida Sun-Sentinel ...SOUTH FLORIDA OUT; NO MAGS; NO SALES; NO INTERNET; NO TV... Mike Stocker

  • A sailboat crashed and smashed at the Dinner Key Marina in Miami. Mike Stocker, South Florida Sun-Sentinel ...SOUTH FLORIDA OUT; NO MAGS; NO SALES; NO INTERNET; NO TV... Mike Stocker

  • A sailboat came to rest near a parking lot off of Dinner Key in Miami after Hurricane Irma. Mike Stocker, South Florida Sun-Sentinel ...SOUTH FLORIDA OUT; NO MAGS; NO SALES; NO INTERNET; NO TV... Mike Stocker

  • A boy photographs a van in a sinkhole in Winter Springs, Fla., Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, after Hurricane Irma. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP) Joe Burbank

  • Larry Dimas walk around his destroyed trailer, which he rents out to others, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which passed through yesterday, in Immokalee, Fla., Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. His tenants evacuated and nobody was inside when it was destroyed. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) Gerald Herbert

  • OUT HIGHLANDS TODAY / OUT HERNANDO TODAY / OUT CITRUS COUNTY CHRONICLE / NO MAGS NO SALES CHRIS URSO | Tampa Bay TimesFrank Provenzano, owner of Golf Cart Warehouse, surveys damage after Hurricane Irma winds knocked down an awning in the front of the business Monday, Sept. 11, 2017 in Palm Harbor. "We all knew this thing was coming down", said Provenzano CHRIS URSO

  • A partially sunken boat is seen in the waters off Marco Island, Fla., following Hurricane Irma on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. (Loren Elliott/Tampa Bay Times via AP) Elliott, Loren

  • Fallen trees rest on the ground following Hurricane Irma at Marco Island, Fla., on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. (Loren Elliott/Tampa Bay Times via AP) Elliott, Loren

  • On Monday, a van remains in a sinkhole that opened up at the Astor Park apartment complex in Winter Springs, Fla., when Hurricane Irma passed through central Florida. AP

  • A patient is evacuated by boat from the St. Vincent's Medical Center after floodwaters from Hurricane Irma covered the first floor of the hospital in Jacksonville, Fla. Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, (AP Photo/John Raoux) John Raoux

  • Residents make their way across a flooded street after Hurricane Irma brought floodwaters to Jacksonville, Fla. Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, (AP Photo/John Raoux) John Raoux

  • after Hurricane Irma brought floodwaters to Jacksonville, Fla. Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, (AP Photo/John Raoux) John Raoux

  • Rescue workers help a couple evacuate their home that was flooder after Hurricane Irma brought floodwaters to Jacksonville, Fla. Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, (AP Photo/John Raoux) John Raoux

  • September 11, 2017 St. Marys: Life jackets for a adult and a child from the remains of the old Cumberland Queen Ferry, which sank, are part of the debris littering the flooded main street after Hurricane Irma swept through the area on Monday, September 11, 2017, in St. Marys. Numerous boats were destroyed after the towns docks were torn apart by the storm. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com ccompton@ajc.com

  • September 11, 2017 St. Marys: Local resident Jay Lassiter takes in the remains of a pile of boats, many under the water that can’t be seen, after they were swept together and sank when their docks were destroyed as Hurricane Irma swept through the area on Monday, September 11, 2017, in St. Marys. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com ccompton@ajc.com

  • Larry Dimas walks around his destroyed trailer, which he rents out to others, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Immokalee, Fla., Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. His tenants evacuated and nobody was inside when it was destroyed. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) Gerald Herbert

  • Quintana and Liz Perez look out at the flooding outside their home in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Immokalee, Fla., Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) Gerald Herbert

  • Tybee Island resident Joe Murphy wipes the sweat off his face while standing in knee deep water from Tropical Storm Irma outside his house, Monday, Sept., 11, 2017, on Tybee Island, Ga. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) Stephen B. Morton

  • September 11, 2017 St. Marys: Local residents Gary McClain (left) and Bill Gross take in the remains of the old Cumberland Island Ferry scattered across a flooded street after Hurricane Irma swept through taking out the city’s docks, damaging homes and sinking numerous boats on Monday, September 11, 2017, in St. Marys. Most of the ferry sank to the bottom. Many residents said it was the worse damage in the city they had ever seen. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com ccompton@ajc.com

  • Paula Thompson, Tallahassee, Fla., holds her grandson Easton Bruno, 3, while on a walk in rainfall caused by Hurricane Irma at Riverfront Park in Montgomery, Ala., on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. Thompson and her grandson drove up to Montgomery from Tallahassee over the weekend to evacuate Hurricane Irma's path.(AP Photo/Montgomery Advertiser/Albert Cesare) (AP Photo/Montgomery Advertiser/Albert Cesare)

  • Rescue workers, left, search a neighborhood for flood victims as a man on a kayak down the street after Hurricane Irma brought floodwaters to Jacksonville, Fla. Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/John Raoux) John Raoux

  • A mobile home community is flooded in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Everglades City, Fla., Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman) David Goldman

  • Siena Sanderson and her father, Glenn Sanderson, work to clear a drain in front of their Fort Lauderdale home on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, after Hurricane Irma blew through South Florida. Siena Sanderson, who lives in Taos, NM, flew in last Wednesday to help her parents who are both in their nineties. Amy Beth Bennett, Sun Sentinel...SOUTH FLORIDA OUT; NO MAGS; NO SALES; NO INTERNET; NO TV... Amy Beth Bennett

  • Chris Stokes, right, cleans up mud brought in with the storm surge from Hurricane Irma with help from his son Chase, 9, at his father's convenience store in Everglades City, Fla., Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman) David Goldman

  • Dede Smith

  • Four people link arms as they explore the flooded Jacksonville Landing in the wake Hurricane Irma on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Bazemore) John Bazemore

  • Cory Donoher pulls Linda DeWalt and her dogs on his kayak down a street in Jacksonville, Fla., Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, after it was flooded from the Ortega River when Hurricane Irma passed over the region. (Dede Smith/The Florida Times-Union via AP) Dede Smith

  • Chef Bruce Feingold clears debris outside Dada restaurant in Delray Beach after Hurricane Irma Monday, September 11, 2017. He said the restaurant came through the storm ok. "We are hoping to be open tomorrow or tonight if the city will let us," he said. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post) Bruce R. Bennett



Associated Press
Monday, September 11, 2017

Authorities sent an aircraft carrier and other Navy ships to Florida to help with search-and-rescue operations Monday as a flyover of the hurricane-battered Keys yielded what the governor said were scenes of devastation.

“I just hope everyone survived,” Gov. Rick Scott said.

He said boats were cast ashore, water, sewers and electricity were knocked out, and “I don’t think I saw one trailer park where almost everything wasn’t overturned.” Authorities also struggled to clear the single highway connecting the string of islands to the mainland.

The scale of the damage inflicted by Irma on Sunday began to come into focus as the hurricane weakened to a tropical storm and finally pushed its way out of Florida, but not before dealing a parting shot by triggering severe flooding around Jacksonville in the state’s northeastern corner.

Around midday, Irma also spread misery into Georgia and South Carolina as it moved inland with winds at 50 mph.

One death in Florida, that of a man killed in an auto accident in the Keys during the storm, was blamed on Irma, along with one death in Georgia. At least 36 people were killed in the Caribbean as the storm closed in on the U.S. mainland.

The governor said that the damage along Florida’s southwest coast in such places as Naples and Fort Myers was not as bad as feared. But in the Keys, he said, “there is devastation.”

“It’s horrible, what we saw,” Scott said. “I know for our entire state, especially the Keys, it’s going to be a long road.”

He said the Navy dispatched the USS Iwo Jima, USS New York and the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln to help with search and rescue and other relief efforts.

During its rainy, windy run up the full 400-mile length of Florida, Irma swamped homes, uprooted trees, flooded streets, snapped miles of power lines and toppled construction cranes.

“How are we going to survive from here?” asked Gwen Bush, who waded through thigh-deep floodwaters outside her central Florida home to reach National Guard rescuers and get a ride to a shelter. “What’s going to happen now? I just don’t know.”

More than 6.5 million homes and businesses statewide remained without power, and 180,000 people huddled in shelters. Officials warned it could take weeks for electricity to be restored to everyone.

Irma was at one point the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in the open Atlantic, with winds up to 185 mph. By Monday afternoon, its winds were down to 60 mph.

The hurricane’s wrath in the Sunshine State extended the full length of the state and reached from the west coast to the east.

The Keys felt Irma’s full fury when it came ashore as a Category 4 storm with 130 mph winds.

Emergency managers there declared “the Keys are not open for business” and warned that there was no fuel, electricity, running water or cell service and that supplies were low and anxiety high.

In the Jacksonville area, close to the Georgia line, storm surge brought some of the worst flooding ever seen there, with at least 46 people pulled from swamped homes.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office warned residents along the St. Johns River to “Get out now.”

“If you need to get out, put a white flag in front of your house. A T-shirt, anything white,” the office said on its Facebook page. “Search and rescue teams are ready to deploy.”

As Irma began moving into Georgia, a tornado spun off by the storm was reported on the coast, and firefighters inland had to rescue several people after trees fell on their homes.

A tropical storm warning was issued for the first time ever in Atlanta, and school was canceled in communities around the state. More than 100,000 customers were without power in Georgia and over 80,000 in South Carolina.

Over the next two days, Irma is expected to push to the northwest, into Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee.

People in the heavily populated Tampa-St. Petersburg area were braced for its first direct hit from a major hurricane since 1921. But by the time it struck in the middle of the night Monday, its winds were down to 100 mph or less, and the damage was nowhere near as bad as expected.

In Redington Shores west of Tampa, Carl Roberts spent a sleepless night riding out Irma in his 17th-floor beachfront condo. After losing power late Sunday, he made it through the worst of the storm shaken but unhurt.

“The hurricane winds lashed the shutters violently, throughout the night,” he wrote in a text message, “making sleep impossible.”

As morning broke, he couldn’t open the electric shutters to see outside.

More than 120 homes were being evacuated early Monday in just outside Orlando as floodwaters started to pour in. Firefighters and National Guardsmen went door-to-door and used boats to ferry families to safety.

A few miles away, a huge sinkhole opened at the edge of an apartment building, swallowing air conditioning units and bushes. Firefighters evacuated more than two dozen tenants in the pounding rain and wind.