cloudy
Saturday November 18th, 2017 10:40AM
8:59AM ( 1 hour ago ) Weather Alert
9:48PM ( 12 hours ago ) Weather Alert

Governor: 'Work to do' for Florida to recover after Irma

By The Associated Press

LOWER MATECUMBE KEY, Fla. (AP) — Parts of Florida inched back toward normalcy with workers restoring power, clearing roads and replenishing gas supplies, even as teams scoured the state's southernmost islands and authorities warned of mass devastation.

Residents drifted back from shelters and out-of-state hotels to see Hurricane Irma's scattershot destruction. Flooded streets remained, and the count of damaged and totaled homes ticked upward. But positive signs included some curfews being lifted, flights resuming and grocery stores reopening.

"Everything's gone," said Jen Gilreath, a 33-year-old bartender whose Jacksonville home filled with knee-high floodwaters.

While people around the state waited for power to be restored, a new hazard emerged: carbon monoxide poisoning from electric generators. Authorities said that five people died and more than a dozen were treated after breathing fumes from the portable power sources in three separate instances.

As crews labored to repair the lone highway connecting the Keys, residents of some of the islands closest to Florida's mainland returned to get their first look at the devastation two days after Irma roared in with 130 mph (209 kph) winds.

Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Brock Long said preliminary estimates suggested that 25 percent of the homes in the Keys were destroyed and 65 percent sustained major damage.

"Basically, every house in the Keys was impacted," he said.

The number of deaths blamed on Irma in Florida climbed to 13, in addition to four in South Carolina and two in Georgia. At least 37 people were killed in the Caribbean. The Florida deaths include those killed by carbon monoxide.

"We've got a lot of work to do, but everybody's going to come together," Florida Gov. Rick Scott said. "We're going to get this state rebuilt."

Glimpses of Irma's economic toll were emerging, with Florida saying 31 state agencies had already amassed nearly $250 million in preparation and recovery expenses. In the meantime, officials warily eyed storm damage to its citrus crops, an issue Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio planned to address at a joint news conference Wednesday morning with growers.

The number of people without electricity in the steamy late-summer heat dropped to 9.5 million — just under half of Florida's population. Utility officials warned it could take 10 days or more for power to be fully restored. About 110,000 people remained in shelters across the state.

In hard-hit Naples, on Florida's southwest coast, more than 300 people stood outside a Publix grocery store Tuesday, waiting for it to open.

At the front of the line after a more than two-hour wait, Phill Chirchirillo, 57, said days without electricity and other basics were beginning to wear on people.

"At first it's like, 'We're safe, thank God.' Now they're testy," he said. "The order of the day is to keep people calm."

While nearly all of Florida was engulfed by the 400-mile-wide (645-kilometer) storm, the Keys — home to about 70,000 people — appeared to be the hardest hit. Drinking water and power were cut off, all three of the islands' hospitals were closed, and the supply of gasoline was extremely limited.

Search-and-rescue teams made their way into the more distant reaches of the Keys, and an aircraft carrier was positioned off Key West to help. Officials said it was not known how many people ignored evacuation orders and stayed behind in the Keys.

Crews also worked to repair two washed-out, 300-foot (90-meter) sections of U.S. 1, the highway that runs through the Keys, and check the safety of the 42 bridges linking the islands.

In Islamorada, a trailer park was devastated, the homes ripped apart as if by a giant claw. A sewage-like stench hung over the place.

Debris was scattered everywhere, including refrigerators, washers and dryers, a 25-foot (8-meter) fishing boat and a Jacuzzi. Homes were torn open to give a glimpse of their contents, including a bedroom with a small Christmas tree decorated with starfish.

One man and his family came to check on a weekend home and found it destroyed. The sight was too much to bear. The man told his family to get back in the car, and they drove off toward Miami.

The Lower Keys — including the chain's most distant and most populous island, Key West, with 27,000 people — were still off-limits, with a roadblock in place where the highway was washed out.

Although the Keys are studded with mansions and beachfront resorts, about 13 percent of the people live in poverty and could face big obstacles as the cleanup begins.

"People who bag your groceries when you're on vacation — the bus drivers, hotel cleaners, cooks and dishwashers — they're already living beyond paycheck to paycheck," said Stephanie Kaple, who runs an organization that helps the homeless in the Keys.

Corey Smith, a UPS driver who rode out the hurricane in Key Largo, said it was a relief that many buildings on the island escaped major damage. But he said conditions were still not good, with branches blocking roads and supermarkets closed.

"They're shoving people back to a place with no resources," he said by telephone. "It's just going to get crazy pretty quick."

___

Kay reported from Miami. Associated Press writers Terry Spencer in Palm Beach County; Gary Fineout and Joe Reedy in Tallahassee; Jay Reeves in Immokalee; Terrance Harris in Orlando; Claire Galofaro in Jacksonville; and Freida Frisaro, Curt Anderson and David Fischer in Miami contributed to this report.

___

HURRICANE NEWSLETTER — Get the best of the AP's all-formats reporting on Irma and Harvey in your inbox: http://apne.ws/ahYQGtb

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Business, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Online Headlines - Georgia News
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Clayton Kershaw helps Dodgers end 11-game skid, wins 17th
Clayton Kershaw pitched NL-leading Los Angeles to its first win in nearly two weeks, helping the Dodgers snap the club's worst skid since moving West at 11 games by beating the San Francisco Giants 5-3
1:50AM ( 17 minutes ago )
China-born New Zealand lawmaker says he's loyal to new home
A New Zealand lawmaker who was born in China says he's loyal to his new home after media reported he'd spent a decade at top Chinese military colleges and was investigated by New Zealand's intelligence agency
1:45AM ( 23 minutes ago )
From India to Malaysia, Rohingya face hardship, uncertainty
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh to escape persecution in Myanmar, but others have gone elsewhere, creating settlements in Nepal, India, Malaysia and even the U.S.
1:43AM ( 24 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Asian stocks mostly higher after Wall Street record highs
Asian stock markets are mostly higher after U.S. shares rose to new highs on encouraging jobs data
1:04AM ( 1 hour ago )
Judge to hear arguments on whether to lock up Pharma Bro
A federal judge in New York is considering whether the provocative online antics of former pharmaceuticals company CEO Martin Shkreli are bad enough to put him behind bars
12:56AM ( 1 hour ago )
Hawaii says it's 1st state to go cashless for pot sales
Hawaii says it will be the first state to have marijuana sales handled without cash
12:53AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Collapsed interstate bridge in Georgia reopens to traffic
A key section of interstate highway through Atlanta has partially reopened, six weeks after a highway bridge collapsed because of a large fire.
7:41PM ( 4 months ago )
Cagle promises 500,000 new jobs in Georgia governor campaign
Casey Cagle will launch his campaign for governor on Sunday with a pledge to add half a million new jobs in Georgia in four years if voters choose him to replace term-limited Gov. Nathan Deal.
12:11PM ( 4 months ago )
Senate confirms Sonny Perdue as agriculture secretary
The Senate on Monday confirmed former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to be agriculture secretary in President Donald Trump's administration as the farming industry looks to Washington for help amid a downturn in the market.
8:55PM ( 4 months ago )
AP Online - Georgia News
Senate committee approves 'campus carry' bill with changes
Licensed gun owners could carry concealed handguns on public college campuses under legislation backed by a Senate committee
8:50PM ( 5 months ago )
Debate over religious freedom returns to Georgia legislature
Georgia Republicans have again proposed legislation they argue will protect people acting on religious belief, undaunted by Gov. Nathan Deal's veto of a proposal last year.
7:42PM ( 6 months ago )
Authorities: Suspect in 3 slayings dead after motel standoff in west Georgia
A man suspected in the killings of two women in Florida and one in Alabama died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after a standoff Tuesday at a Georgia motel in which a female suspect was arrested, authorities said.
7:56PM ( 7 months ago )
AP Online Headlines - Georgia News
Clayton Kershaw helps Dodgers end 11-game skid, wins 17th
Clayton Kershaw pitched NL-leading Los Angeles to its first win in nearly two weeks, helping the Dodgers snap the club's worst skid since moving West at 11 games by beating the San Francisco Giants 5-3
1:50AM ( 17 minutes ago )
China-born New Zealand lawmaker says he's loyal to new home
A New Zealand lawmaker who was born in China says he's loyal to his new home after media reported he'd spent a decade at top Chinese military colleges and was investigated by New Zealand's intelligence agency
1:45AM ( 23 minutes ago )
From India to Malaysia, Rohingya face hardship, uncertainty
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh to escape persecution in Myanmar, but others have gone elsewhere, creating settlements in Nepal, India, Malaysia and even the U.S.
1:43AM ( 24 minutes ago )
Berkeley loosens rules on police pepper-spraying protesters
For the first time in 20 years, police in the city of Berkeley can use pepper spray on violent demonstrators
1:42AM ( 26 minutes ago )
As Rohingya flee Myanmar, Suu Kyi skips UN General Assembly
As Rohingya flee violence, Myanmar presidential spokesman says leader Aung San Suu Kyi will skip U.N. General Assembly.
1:39AM ( 28 minutes ago )