Thousands without power in coastal Georgia from severe storm

Thousands without power in coastal Georgia from severe storm”

Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm with winds of up to 70mph as it moved into Georgia and SC. Some homes and businesses could be without power for weeks, especially in the hardest-hit areas like southwest Florida, the NextEra Energy Inc (NEE.N) unit said.

The Keys were largely evacuated before the storm struck and police established a checkpoint on Monday to keep displaced residents from returning while authorities worked to restore basic services.

"I have to show up where I hope someone will be, then write it down on paper and use that old standby word of mouth to get the information out. Plus we are still without water, power, sewer, gas and cell service", she said.

Irma killed almost 40 people in the Caribbean and at least six in Florida and Georgia. "I'd like to walk through there, but it looks like it's three feet deep at least, and my boots are only a foot deep and I don't like cold water, which explains why I live here", local resident Sam Parish told AFP. Some 6.5 million people, about a third of the state's population, had been ordered to evacuate southern Florida to shelters, hotels or relatives in safer areas.

Cooper said two rescue teams have been sent to Florida to help with recovery there. "Response operations are fluid, and we will provide updates as available". The hurricane center had earlier forecast a "catastrophic" storm surge of up to 15 feet in the city.

As of late Monday, the death toll was around 40. Forrest and his roommate chose to ignore a mandatory evacuation order and ride out the storm in their apartment.

The USS Abraham Lincoln, an aircraft carrier, arrived on Florida's East Coast.

Details about Irma's destruction, and the effort to recover from it, are still emerging.

No timetable for reopening the remainder of the Keys was given. Accessing the Keys via boat is too risky because the near-shore waters are littered with debris, including unmoored boats and navigational markers.

Hurricane Jose, a Category 1 hurricane, remains in the open waters of the western Atlantic. It gradually weakened to a tropical storm by Monday morning.

In fact, people living hundreds of kilometres outside of the cone will feel Irma's wrath, with hurricane-force winds extending 200km in diameter.

The Keys are linked by 42 bridges that have to be checked for safety before motorists can be allowed on the farther islands, officials said. "The first responders and crews on the scene are adamant that the Keys cannot handle any more people until they can assist the ones who are there and in need".

For those who remain on the islands, a dusk-to-dawn curfew will be in effect until further notice, Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay said. "We have downed power lines all across the state". All three hospitals on the island chain were still closed. The archipelago of hundreds of islands, curving south from the southern tip of the mainland, is still partly inaccessible; a quarter of all buildings were destroyed, and 65 percent sustained major damage. The Florida Department of Transportation is repairing two sections of road that were washed away by Irma - one at mile marker 37 and the other at mile marker 75 - but believe they will finish later Tuesday.

SC also geared up for the storm. The state has few refineries of its own and tankers and barges will have to deliver virtually all of its fuel.

Authorities were stopping people to check documentation such as proof of residency or business ownership before allowing them back into the Upper Keys.

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