Hurricane Irma leaves Florida powerless, moves north

Hurricane Irma poses toughest test for US nuclear industry since Fukushima

Hurricane Irma poses toughest test for US nuclear industry since Fukushima

More than 3.4 million homes in the state are without power, with parts of the city of Miami are under water. They suspect they may find fatalities.

Irma, which decimated the Caribbean as a top-tier Category 5 hurricane before losing strength after repeated landfalls in the continental USA, was downgraded to a tropical storm Monday.

Almost two-thirds of Florida's 20 million residents were without power Monday after Tropical Storm Irma cut a destructive path through the state before churning north into Georgia.

At its peak the storm prompted evacuation orders for 6.5 million people in Florida, the largest evacuation in modern USA history.

A tired Gov. Rick Scott, who has flown across the state during the past five days sounding the alarm bell ahead of landfall, acknowledged that it won't be easy for residents in the days ahead.

The historic storm is so wide that authorities faced destructive storm surges on both coasts of Florida and the Keys as it follows a path north toward Georgia. As of Tuesday morning, power had been restored to about 40 percent of those customers. "Basically, every house in the Keys was impacted", FEMA administrator Brock Long said.

Anxious relatives, generous volunteers and frantic neighbors turned to social media after Hurricane Irma wiped out electricity and cell service to many communities around Florida, cutting off most contact with remote islands in the Keys. "It has just begun, and it's going to get worse". Irma started out in the usual way, but we saw dramatic differences as it approached Florida on the east and west coast.

The situation in the Sunshine State was trying the patience of people who rode out the storm and those who came home to find widespread devastation and access to their neighborhoods limited at times.

The National Weather Service's Charleston office said winds would begin to pick up Monday morning with speeds of between 35 miles per hour and 45 miles per hour.

Two other people died from a two-car crash in the rain in Hardee County, which is about 96 kilometre inland from Sarasota, officials said.

Florida has already spent $77 million ahead of Irma's arrival.

As nightfall approached Tuesday, many people from SC to Florida were staying in darkened homes, dealing with fallen trees and blocked roadways, and hoping they could find gas.

It may be weeks before some get their power back, because electrical systems in some areas may need rebuilding, FPL has warned.

Meanwhile, search-and-rescue teams located in Orlando and other staging areas were waiting out the storm until it was safe enough to go out and assess the extent of the damage and injuries. The plan is to drop off damage assessment teams in Key West before traveling to Opa-locka in the afternoon.

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