• Live updates: Florida begins cleaning up after Irma

    By: Cox Media Group National Content Desk


    UPDATE 7:35 a.m. (AP): Officials in the upper Florida Keys are allowing residents and business owners to return after Hurricane Irma.

    People were able to return to Monroe County as of 7 a.m. EDT Tuesday.

    In a Facebook posting, Monroe County officials said a yellow re-entry sticker or proof of residency or business ownership will be required.

    County officials said a roadblock will be put around mile marker 74, where part of U.S. 1 was washed out by Hurricane Irma, which slammed into the state Sunday as a Category 4 storm. A road crew is expected to begin repairs Tuesday.

    Officials warned returning residents that there are limited services available. Most areas are still without power and water and cellphone service is limited. Most gas stations in the Key Largo area are still closed.

    Crews are working to clear U.S. 1, the only road that runs north/south through the Florida Keys.

    County officials also said Mariners Hospital in Tavernier was expected to reopen Tuesday morning.


    Download the free WPXI weather app and watch Channel 11 News for regular updates on the storm's progression.

    Read more hurricane stories in the Hurricane Irma section.

    UPDATE 7:35 a.m. (AP): More than 1.2 million customers in Georgia are without power after Irma swirled into the state.

    Georgia Power will be starting to assess damages on Tuesday. The utility company says much of the state including coastal Georgia and metro Atlanta experienced the most outages after parts of the state received widespread damage caused by high winds and heavy rainfall.

    Georgia Power says Fulton County currently has the most outages with 105,390.

    By early Tuesday, Georgia Power has nearly 800,000 outages and EMC has around 466,000 customers without power.

    The Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority has resumed service Tuesday, but limited routes. The transportation company will have rail service running in 20-minute intervals.

    UPDATE 7:35 a.m. (AP): Tropical Storm Irma no longer exists but she left plenty of problems in South Carolina.

    More than 220,000 customers were without electricity early Tuesday. Duke Energy reported the biggest problems with 100,000 customers without service. The biggest problems were in Anderson and Greenville counties.

    The South Carolina Electric Cooperatives report that about 63,000 customers are without service. The biggest problems are in Oconee and Charleston counties.

    South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. had 58,000 customers without service early Tuesday. The major problems were in Charleston and Beaufort counties.

    Many schools in South Carolina are closed or opening on a delayed schedule Tuesday.

    At least one person died. Fifty-seven-year-old Charles Saxon was killed Monday afternoon by a tree limb while clearing debris outside his home in Calhoun Falls.

    UPDATE 5:55 a.m. (AP): The airport for Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has re-opened Tuesday morning after closing as Hurricane Irma pounded the state.

    Operations at the airport resumed at 4 a.m. EDT, but a check of the airport's website Tuesday morning showed many flights still canceled.

    Meanwhile, the Miami International Airport said in a tweet that it will resume operations on a limited basis Tuesday. But the airport said passengers should contact their airlines to check on flight status before coming.

    Six deaths in Florida have been blamed on Irma, which first hit the state Sunday as a powerful Category 4 hurricane.

    UPDATE 3:45 a.m. (AP): Florida residents have begun to dig out in hurricane-scarred Florida and officials are slowly piecing together the scope of Irma's vicious path of destruction across the peninsula.

    The fate of the Florida Keys, where Irma rumbled through with Category 4 muscle, remains largely a question mark. Communication and access were cut and authorities dangled only vague assessments of ruinous impact.
    Florida Gov. Rick Scott called the storm "devastating" after emerging from a Monday fly-over of the Keys.
    A Navy aircraft carrier was due to anchor off Key West to help in search-and-rescue efforts.
    The governor described overturned mobile homes, washed-ashore boats and rampant flood damage.
    Six deaths in Florida have been blamed on Irma, along with three in Georgia and one in South Carolina. At least 35 people were killed in the Caribbean.

    UPDATE: 4:40 p.m.

    Tropical Storm Irma continues to slowly weaken as it moves over Southwestern Georgia, according to the National Hurricane Center.

    UPDATE: 1:15 p.m. (AP): The Navy is sending an aircraft carrier to Key West to provide emergency services.

    An update from Monroe County describes "an astounding recovery effort" taking place in the Florida Keys.

    The USS Lincoln aircraft carrier will be anchored off Key West to provide emergency services, and three other Navy vessels are en route.

    Officials said the National Guard has arrived in the island chain, and state transportation officials have cleared six of 42 bridges as safe for travel. However, roads remain closed because of debris, and fuel is still a concern. There is no water, power or cell service in the Keys.

    UPDATE 12:30 p.m. (AP): Nearly 7.2 million homes and businesses are without power in multiple states as Tropical Storm Irma moves through the Southeast.

    The vast majority were in Florida. The state's emergency management officials said the storm cut power to more than 6.5 million account holders across the state as of Monday afternoon.

    Eric Silagy, the CEO of Florida Power & Light, said Irma caused the most widespread damage in the company's history. It affected all 35 counties in the utility's territory which is most of the state's Atlantic coast and the Gulf coast south of Tampa. The most extensive damage was likely in the Naples area, but a full assessment was ongoing. He said 19,500 electric workers have been deployed in the restoration effort.

    Still, he said, it will take days for many people to be restored and, in some cases where the damage was extensive, weeks.

    Meanwhile, Duke Energy reported Monday morning that more than 860,000 of the homes and businesses it serves in Florida were without power.

    Georgia reported more than 570,000 homes and businesses without electricity, and there were 80,000 in South Carolina.

    UPDATE 11:55 a.m. (AP): A resident riding out Tropical Storm Irma on Georgia's largest public beach says some homes have been damaged but the destruction isn't as bad as he feared.
    Chip Clayton was driving the roads Monday as Irma's winds and rainfall lashed Tybee Island, home to more than 3,000 people east of Savannah. Clayton said at least three homes had parts of their roofs or porches torn away and some roads were flooded. Ocean waters had begun washing away chunks of the protective dunes along the beach.
    But Clayton said "for the most part, everything's fine. ...We thought it would be a lot worse."
    Chatham County emergency management director Dennis Jones, whose area includes Savannah and Tybee Island, said Monday that Irma's impacts should ease up by Monday evening.

    UPDATE 11:40 a.m. (AP): Jacksonville, Florida, authorities are telling residents near the St. Johns river to leave quickly as floodwaters rise.
    The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office warned people in evacuation zones A and B along the St. Johns River to "Get out NOW."
    They say river is at historic flood levels and likely to get worse at high tide around 2 p.m.
    On its Facebook page, the sheriff's office told those who need help evacuating to "put a white flag in front of your house. A t-shirt, anything white."
    Rescue teams were ready to deploy.

    UPDATE 11:20 a.m. (AP): Tropical Storm Irma is gradually losing its strength as it sloshes through northern Florida with the National Hurricane Center discontinuing four storm surge and tropical storm warnings.
    Irma's maximum sustained winds were down to 65 mph (100 kph) as the storm was about 70 miles (115 km) east of Tallahassee late Monday morning. It's moving north northwest at 17 mph (28 kph).
    Forecasters expect Irma's center to move into southwestern Georgia later Monday and then into Alabama Tuesday morning and eventually western Tennessee.
    Northern Florida and southern Georgia should keep getting soaked, with rain totals eventually accumulating to 8 to 15 inches. Isolated parts of central Georgia, eastern Alabama and southern South Carolina may get up to 10 inches of rain.

    UPDATE 10:55 a.m. (AP): Officials say at least one tornado has been reported in coastal Georgia as strong winds and drenching rains from Tropical Storm Irma hammer the state.
    Glynn County emergency officials had no immediate reports of tornado damage. They said in news release Monday that residents who didn't evacuate need to shelter in place. They said causeways linking St. Simons Island and Sea Island to the mainland are closed because of flooding, and other roads are flooded as well.
    Gov. Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency for all of Georgia. Irma's center was forecast to cross the Georgia-Florida line Monday afternoon but tropical storm winds were extending more than 400 miles (640 kilometers).
    The National Weather Service placed most of Georgia under a tropical storm warning.

    UPDATE 10:20 a.m. (AP): Tropical storm Irma is drenching the Georgia coast, and forecasters say flooding is a serious threat.
    Downtown Savannah was getting soaked Monday morning, with winds just strong enough to rustle treetops and shake small branches onto the roads. Impacts from the storm were expected throughout the day.
    The National Weather Service said the threat of storm surge had decreased Monday along Georgia's 100 miles (160 kilometers) of coast, but flooding rains could still cause swollen rivers, streams and creeks to overflow.
    Irma was forecast to cross the Georgia-Florida line Monday afternoon. Though downgraded to a tropical storm, its winds reached up to 415 miles (668 kilometers) from the center.
    Georgia Power said more than 125,000 customers were without powers across Georgia's six coastal counties.

    UPDATE 9:30 a.m. (AP): People are being rescued from flooded homes Monday morning south of Jacksonville, Florida, as Tropical Storm Irma pounds the state with rain and wind.
    John Ward, the emergency operations manager of Clay County, says crews have pulled 46 people from flooded homes by early Monday and an undetermined number are still stranded as the area's creeks and ponds are getting record flooding.
    Ward says between 400 and 500 homes received severe flood damage but there have been no serious injuries or deaths.
    Irma weakened to a tropical storm Monday morning, a day after hitting the state as a powerful Category 4 hurricane.

    UPDATE 9:05 a.m. (AP): Much of central Florida, including Orlando, suffered significant damage as Irma blew through Sunday night and into Monday morning.
    Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said Monday morning that there's been widespread damage and significant power loss throughout the area.
    Jacobs said approximately 300,000 residents in Orlando are without power. She also said 60 percent of the fire stations are operating on backup generators and dispatchers received 1,381 calls between Sunday at midnight and 5:45 a.m. Monday morning.
    Residents are being asked to minimize usage such as flushing toilets, bathing, along with washing dishes and laundry.

    UPDATE 8:30 a.m. (AP): Irma is causing record-setting flooding in Jacksonville, Florida, as it moves over the state Monday on its way to southern Georgia.

    The National Weather Service in Jacksonville says storm surge flooding exceeds the record set in 1965 during Hurricane Dora.

    The city on Florida's northeastern Atlantic coast remains under a flash flood warning until 12:45 p.m. Monday.

    Jacksonville Sheriff's officials warned residents not to drive through standing water, adding that in addition to flooding, there are trees and power lines down across the area.

    Irma weakened to a tropical storm Monday morning, a day after hitting the state as a Category 4 hurricane.

    UPDATE 8 a.m. (AP): Irma has weakened to a tropical storm as it moves over Florida toward southern Georgia.

    The storm's maximum sustained winds decreased Monday morning to near 70 mph (110 kph). The U.S. National Hurricane Center says it's expected to weaken to a tropical depression by Tuesday afternoon.

    Irma is centered about 105 miles (170 kilometers) north-northwest of Tampa, Florida, and is moving north-northwest near 18 mph (30 kph).

    Irma hit southern Florida on Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane, bringing roof-ripping winds, gushing floodwaters and widespread power outages.

    UPDATE 7:45 a.m. (AP) Winds and rain from Hurricane Irma have moved into South Carolina and officials are warning residents to be very careful throughout the day.

    A hurricane watch is in effect Monday from Edisto Beach into Florida. A storm surge warning and a tropical storm warning are in effect from near Georgetown into Florida.

    A flash flood warning is in effect along the southern coast of South Carolina, where more than 40,000 were ordered to evacuate barrier islands.

    The storm surge could reach 6 feet (2 meters), especially from late morning to mid-afternoon. Up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) of rain is also possible.

    Wind gusts of up to 60 mph (97 kph) are expected along the South Carolina coast. Forecasters say tornadoes are also possible.

    South Carolina Electric & Gas reported more than 13,000 customers without service Monday morning.

    UPDATE 6:45 a.m. (AP): More than 120 homes were being evacuated in Orange County, just outside Orlando, as floodwaters from Hurricane Irma started to pour in. No injuries have been reported.

    A few miles away, 30 others had to be evacuated when a 60-foot sinkhole opened up under an apartment building. No injuries were reported in that incident.

    More than 3.3 million homes and businesses across Florida lost power, and utility officials said it will take weeks to restore electricity to everyone.

    UPDATE 2:15 a.m. 
    The National Hurricane Center says Irma weakens to Category 1 storm, eye 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Tampa.   

    UPDATE 12:40 a.m.

    The National Hurricane Center says the center of Irma is inland nearing Lakeland east of Tampa, still a Category 2 hurricane.

    UPDATE 5:00 p.m.

    The National Hurricane Center has downgraded Hurricane Irma to a Cat 2 storm, but it has already caused catastrophic damage to Florida's coastal region. 
    Twenty-three people are confirmed dead, and over two million Florida residents are without power because of Hurricane Irma. 

    UPDATE 3:50 p.m.:
    Irma makes second landfall on Marco Island

    The National Hurricane Center has downgraded Hurricane Irma to a Category 3 storm, but still powerful Irma will slam the Naples and Marco Island with its strongest winds in a couple of hours.
    Irma's winds dropped to 120 mph and forecasters say it should weaken a bit more before landfall, but is still expected to be a strong major hurricane.
    The storm is 35 miles south of Naples and is moving north at 12 mph.
    "This is a life-threatening situation," the hurricane center posted
    There are three confirmed deaths in Florida, according to WPXI's sister station WFTV in Orlando.

    Hurricane Irma: What is a Category 5 hurricane? What does it do?

    CLICK HERE for information on how to prepare for a hurricane

    The remnants of Irma will begin impacting the Pittsburgh area by Wednesday, with winds picking up and several days of rain.

    The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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