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Tuesday December 12th, 2017 8:49AM
6:48AM ( 2 hours ago ) Weather Alert

The Latest: Firefighters remove boards to rescue family

By The Associated Press

LOWER MATECUMBE KEY, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on Hurricane Irma (all times local):

6:25 a.m.

Firefighters had to remove boards from a home that caught on fire in St. Petersburg, Florida, before pulling two adults and two teens to safety.

St. Petersburg Fire Rescue District Chief Steve Girk tells local news outlets that firefighters couldn't tell how big the fire was when they arrived early Wednesday because of the plywood over windows. They pulled off the boards to get inside.

The homeowner told firefighters the house lost power during Hurricane Irma.

Investigators don't yet know what caused the fire. Authorities didn't identify the family.

The American Red Cross has been asked to help the family. However they're dealing with a high volume of cases since the hurricane.

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5:20 a.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron is visiting hurricane-hammered St. Barts after reportedly staying overnight on the nearby island of St. Martin on a camp cot.

Macron is on a visit aimed at offering support and solidarity with struggling islanders after his government had been criticized for not doing enough to prepare and help France's Caribbean territories devastated by Hurricane Irma last week.

Macron's office said he stayed overnight on St. Martin on Tuesday and is going to St. Barts on Wednesday with the French health minister, who has warned about diseases spreading on the islands after water supplies, electricity and communication were knocked out for days. French media reports said Macron was sleeping on a camp cot in the police station.

After spending hours meeting with residents of the French side of the shared French-Dutch island of St. Martin on Tuesday, Macron promised to compensate those who have lost homes and livelihoods and to rebuild the island as a "model" of sustainability and durability with a more diversified economy.

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2:10 a.m.

France's president is promising to rebuild stronger Caribbean territories after Hurricane Irma destroyed much of St. Martin and St. Barts.

In a visit to the affected islands, French President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged anger over the government's response to the disaster.

He brought in much-needed food, water and medical supplies Tuesday and said officials were working to evacuate those who wanted to leave and set up much-needed services for those who choose to stay.

He said France was bringing in air-conditioned tents so children can start classes again soon, and he said a center would be established by Monday to begin processing requests for financial help.

Macron pledged to rebuild St. Martin as a "model" for withstanding future storms.

___

1:45 a.m.

Florida residents are drifting back from shelters and far-away havens to see Hurricane Irma's scattershot destruction.

Flooded streets remained Tuesday, and the count of damaged and totaled homes ticked upward even as some curfews were lifted, flights resumed and amusement park rides again twirled.

Crews were working to repair the lone highway connecting the Keys. Residents of some of the islands closest to Florida's mainland were allowed to return and 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 says preliminary estimates suggested that 25 percent of the homes in the Keys were destroyed and 65 percent sustained major damage.

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

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