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Irma leaves most of Florida without power

BBC News logo BBC News 9/11/2017

About 6.5 million homes in Florida, two-thirds of the total, are without power after Hurricane Irma cut a deadly path through the state, officials say.

Relief operations are under way and engineers are working to restore power, but many areas remain stranded.

The islands of the Florida Keys and western parts of the US state bore the brunt of the category-four hurricane.

Irma hit Florida on Sunday, before weakening to a tropical storm as it moved north on Monday.

Media reports link at least four deaths to the storm in Florida. Last week it killed at least 37 people in Caribbean islands.

Florida Governor Rick Scott said it was "going to take some time" before people could return to their homes, the Miami Herald website reports.

Speaking as he went on an aerial tour of the Keys to survey the damage early on Monday, he said: "Power lines are down throughout the state. We've got roads that are impassable, so everybody's got to be patient as we work through this."

Reuters Vehicle involved in car crash in Florida, 10 September A number of fatal car crashes in Florida are being linked to the storm 1

The Keys are cut off from the mainland, as the 42 bridges that link them are being assessed for damage. Reports say that 10,000 people decided to ride out the storm.

At 18:00 GMT, its centre had moved into southern Georgia, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

Before and after in Bonita Springs, Florida © Reuters Before and after in Bonita Springs, Florida

BBC A map showing the projected path of Hurricane Irma. 1

How big will the disaster response be?

Although Miami was spared the worst, large parts of the city are under water. Winds have snapped power lines and 72% of homes there are without electricity, officials say.

A map showing the projected path of Hurricane Irma. © BBC A map showing the projected path of Hurricane Irma.

On the west coast of Florida, drone footage from Naples, a town on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico about 125 miles (200km) to the north-west, shows rows of shattered suburban homes on streets under water.

President Donald Trump has released emergency federal aid for Florida, describing the hurricane as a "big monster".

Getty Images Downed power lines in Bonita Springs, Florida, 11 September Power lines are down across the state 1

Reuters Before and after in Bonita Springs, Florida Before and after in Bonita Springs, Florida 1

How have residents felt the impact?

"We feel the building swaying all the time," restaurant owner Deme Lomas told Reuters news agency by phone from his 35th-floor apartment in Miami.

Vehicle involved in car crash in Florida, 10 September: A number of fatal car crashes in Florida are being linked to the storm © Reuters A number of fatal car crashes in Florida are being linked to the storm

At least four deaths have been connected to the storm:

  • Two police officers died when their vehicles collided in Hardee County in central Florida

  • A person died in a single-car crash near Orlando

  • A man died in the town of Marathon in the Florida Keys when his vehicle hit a tree on Saturday

Downed power lines in Bonita Springs, Florida, 11 September: Power lines are down across the state © Getty Images Power lines are down across the state

Some 6.3 million people in the state were told to evacuate before Irma arrived.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Miami International Airport were closed on Monday.

Nighttime curfews have been imposed areas such as in Miami, where 13 people were arrested on suspicion of looting.

Which areas were hit before Florida?

Irma is the most powerful Atlantic storm in a decade, and caused widespread destruction on several Caribbean islands:

  • Cuba: at least 10 people were killed by the storm on the island, officials say. Three quarters of the population are without power.
  • St Martin and St Barthelemy: Six out of 10 homes on St Martin, an island shared between France and the Netherlands, are now uninhabitable, French officials say. Nine people had died and seven were missing in the French territories, while four are known to have died in Dutch Sint-Maarten
  • Turks and Caicos Islands: Widespread damage, although extent unclear
  • Barbuda: The small island is said to be "barely habitable", with 95% of the buildings damaged. One death has been confirmed
  • Anguilla: Extensive damage with one person confirmed dead
  • Puerto Rico: More than 6,000 residents of the US territory are in shelters and many more without power. At least three people have died
  • British Virgin Islands: Widespread damage reported, and five dead
  • US Virgin Islands: Damage to infrastructure was said to be widespread, with four deaths confirmed

Another hurricane, Jose, has been weakening over the western Atlantic, with swells due to affect parts of Hispaniola (the island split into Haiti and the Dominican Republic), the Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos Islands, later this week.

Are you in the region? Are you a holidaymaker unable to get a flight home or a resident who has been preparing for Hurricane Irma? If it is safe for you to do so, share your experiences by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

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