Deaths in Florida Keys takes Irma's death toll to 61

Deaths in Florida Keys takes Irma's death toll to 61

Along the Gulf Coast, two manatees became stranded after Hurricane Irma sucked the water out of Sarasota Bay, in Florida's Manatee County.

Twelve Irma-related fatalities were confirmed by Florida emergency management officials on Tuesday, while authorities in Georgia and SC each reported three deaths from the storm and its immediate aftermath.

"The thing to watch is whether small insurance companies are going be able to survive massive amount of claims that we expect with hurricane Irma", Dan Weber, Association of Mature American Citizens CEO and a former Florida state insurance specialist for 30 years, said.

Charles Saxon, 57, became South Carolina's first recorded death when he was struck by a tree limb while clearing debris outside his home in Calhoun Falls amid wind gusts of about 40 miles per hour (64 kph), according to a statement from Abbeville County Coroner Ronnie Ashley. "Given the size and strength, infrastructure systems will need to be rebuilt completely in some parts of Florida".

Officials have reported 37 deaths in the Caribbean, four deaths in SC, and two deaths in Georgia.

"This was a large, extremely risky catastrophic hurricane", National Hurricane Centre spokesman and meteorologist Dennis Feltgen said today, when he said the storm was over.

Davis Islands, where Buckhorn and his family live, are a prime example of the freewheeling development ethic of the region - and the entire state.

Schweiss evacuated to Orlando during the hurricane and then drove back south to try to get back to his home. "Search and rescue teams are ready to deploy". "There's no gas, there's no water". "I will be traveling to Florida tomorrow to meet with our great Coast Guard, FEMA and numerous fearless first responders & others", he announced on Twitter.

The mood is tense in the mostly deserted parking lot of the Homestead-Miami Speedway - police are diverting people who are trying to get back to the Keys there to avoid traffic from building up at a nearby roadblock. Customers living in the hard-hit neighborhoods in southwest Florida, where damage was much more extensive, were expected to get power restored within 10 days.

"It was a very, very stressful trip because every other block had traffic lights out", he said. FPL said its outages dipped to around 2.8 million customers by Tuesday morning from a peak of more than 3.6 million on Monday morning, but that was still more than half of its customers. They include homes, organizations and businesses.

DONEVAN: So he's referring to kind of how important of an artery this bridge in the Keys is and how important it's going to be as they start rebuilding. About 65% are damaged, according to FEMA's initial figures. Federal officials estimated one-quarter of all homes in the Keys were destroyed. He said he doesn't know whether the water would have crested had the water not receded. Some areas also lack water service or are under a mandatory boil water order. In the Keys, though, he said "there is devastation".

Riding out Hurricane Irma in Key West, Florida
This southwest Florida city was the second place Hurricane Irma made landfall, striking Sunday afternoon as a Category 3 storm . At its peak the storm prompted evacuation orders for 6.5mn people in Florida , the largest evacuation in modern U.S. history.

"At first it's like, 'We're safe, thank God.' Now they're testy", he said. "Everyone wants to get down here and check out their homes".

Irma, which stretched 650 miles from east to west, has pummeled at least nine states - deluging streets, knocking over trees and destroying homes along the way.

No deaths in Florida were immediately linked to the storm.

- People still without electricity: 6.8 million, about a third of Florida's population, and hundreds of thousands in Georgia, with utilities saying it could take 10 days or more before all have power. SC had two deaths.

A tree falling onto an occupied vehicle Monday killed a woman in Fosyth County.

One woman in Miami's Little Haiti neighbourhood was forced to deliver her own baby because emergency responders were unable to reach her, the city of Miami said on Twitter.

While the Keys have an exhaustive recovery ahead, signs of normalcy will pop up Tuesday elsewhere in Florida.

Irma's remnants forced Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world's busiest passenger airport, to cancel almost 200 flights early Tuesday.

And Florida Hospital, a health provider in the state, said it would reopen many of its affected facilities on Tuesday or Wednesday.

With Harvey's swamping of Texas, this is the first year two Category four storms hit the United States. At least 35 were killed in the Caribbean.