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Death toll rises after Irma, Florida Keys partially reopens

Chicago News.Net - Wednesday 13th September, 2017

FLORIDA, U.S. - Although the Atlantic’s most deadly storm in history, Hurricane Irma weakened on Monday, it continued to bring wind and rain to the Southeast.

The hurricane, which tore a path of destruction across the Caribbean and through Florida WAS downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone on Tuesday morning.

Irma was said to be located about 65 miles southwest of Atlanta early in the day.

Through the day, the storm is expected to bring heavy rain to the Carolinas, Kentucky and Tennessee. 

Irma death toll climbed to 12 as Florida Keys partially reopened to residents of Upper Keys and Miami Beach were permitted to return home. 

In Florida, at least seven people, including a sheriff's deputy, died of storm-related injuries as the hurricane barreled across the state.

One person was killed in Monroe County after he lost control of a truck that carried a generator as winds whipped at tropical-storm strength, officials said.

In two other fatalities, a sheriff's deputy and a corrections officer, died from a two-car crash in the rain in Hardee County.

According to the Winter Park Police Department, in Winter Park, near Orlando, a man was electrocuted by a downed power line.

Another person died from carbon monoxide poisoning from improper use of a generator in Miami-Dade County and yet another person died in Hillsborough County while cutting fallen tree branches.

Another fatality was reportedly from a car crash in Orange County in central Florida.

Further, at least three people died in Georgia as a result of the storm. 

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul said on Facebook that a man died while lying in bed after a large tree broke and fell on his home.

While the sheriff’s office in Forsyth County said that a female passenger died after a downed tree struck her vehicle.

A third death was reported in Worth County and at least two people have been reported dead in South Carolina.

So far, at least 37 others have died from Irma in the Caribbean, including at least 10 in Cuba.

On Tuesday, as evacuated Floridians made their way back home, they faced bumper-to-bumper traffic to head home and face the aftermath of the deadly hurricane.

Meanwhile, about 6.7 million people were left without power in five states.

For days, the Florida Keys were cut off from the mainland since Irma made landfall on the low-lying islands on Sunday morning as a Category 4 hurricane.

It brought 130 mph winds and a storm surge of 10 feet and became the first Category 4 landfall in Florida since 2004.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said that the storm left "devastation" on the Keys, which were under mandatory evacuation orders during Irma. 

Finally on Tuesday morning, officials opened entry into the Upper Keys for residents in Key Largo, Tavernier and Islamorada, up to mile marker 73, allowing residents to return home - however Scott pointed out that sewage, power and water remain out on the Keys.

According to estimates drawn up by Florida Director of Emergency Management Bryan Koon, about 10,000 people remained in the Keys during the storm.

In Miami Beach, where residents received the nod to return on Tuesday morning, clean up efforts were reportedly underway - mainly on Miami Beach's iconic Ocean Drive that was covered in sand from the storm surge and wind. 

Local officials said that the area was littered with down trees and street signs, but appeared to escape without major structural damage.

Meanwhile, Georgia, South Carolina and Jacksonville witnessed heavy rainfall after Irma moved north on Monday, with wind gusts reaching 64 mph in Atlanta, and 6 inches of rain being witnessed in the coastal city of Brunswick, Georgia.

Further, Charleston, South Carolina, saw a nearly 10-foot storm surge and five to 6 inches of rain fell in the area, with winds reaching 66 mph.

Naples meanwhile recorded a 142-mph wind gust and the city also saw nearly 12 inches of rain and a 7-foot storm surge. 

In the Tampa Bay area, wind gusts reached 94 mph in Lakeland and up to 90 mph.

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