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Irma Destroys 25 Percent of Homes in the Keys, FEMA Says

September 12, 2017 - 3:30pm

State officials continued to survey the damage left from the powerful storm on Tuesday, with Gov. Rick Scott making stops in Jacksonville and Ft. Myers as Florida recovers from the catastrophic storm which made landfall over the weekend.

In the Florida Keys, where Irma made her first landfall, destruction was widespread. FEMA officials announced Tuesday 25 percent of homes in the Keys had been totally destroyed while thousands of others faced widespread damage and were still left without power.

Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm Sunday morning before moving northward, up the state to Marco Island, where it made landfall as a Category 3. 

Flood warnings and rip current advisories were in effect across the state and over 300 shelters were still housing 90,000 Floridians.

As of noon Tuesday, over 5.4 million Floridians were still without power, though that number continued to decrease as the week went on. Miami-Dade County had the highest number of residents without electricity, with 1.1 million out of power as of midday Tuesday.

"What we're seeing is encouraging, particularly on the west coast where our main transmission structures have not come down," said Florida Power & Light spokesman Rob Gould. 

More than 30,000 workers from outside Florida were assisting in restoring power to Florida, lending a helping hand to local electric companies who have been working around the clock to bring light back to the state. 

Keys and Miami Beach residents were finally allowed to return home Tuesday, but local officials warned them their homes may be badly damaged from flooding and high-speed winds which knocked down trees and power lines.

All Florida interstates had been reopened by Tuesday afternoon, but the path home was long and crowded for many Floridians, who ran into traffic jams and gas shortages as they hit the roads. 

The Florida Highway Patrol continued to escort fuel resupply trucks across the state on Tuesday, racing to deliver fuel quickly to communities in need of gas. The US Coast Guard approved opening Port Everglades and Port Tampa Bay earlier Tuesday, giving fuel tankers top priority to bring more gasoline back to Floridians. 

Cell service was spotty in many parts of Florida heavily hit by the storm, leaving many without a way to contact their loved ones to inform them they were safe.

President Donald Trump was scheduled to visit Florida Thursday to survey the damage from Hurricane Irma, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced during a press briefing Tuesday.

“FEMA Administrator Long is traveling to the affected areas today and the President will be making a trip to Florida on Thursday,” she said.

Seven people in Florida died during the storm and that number is expected to climb as more damage assessments are made.

Irma broke several records during its disastrous time as a hurricane, becoming the only hurricane to sustain a Category 5 strength for more than three days, blowing high-intensity winds of 185-mph for 37 hours straight. 

Recovery from Irma is bound to be costly, with some estimating the recovery efforts will cost around $50 billion in the U.S. alone. 



 Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen



Irma's Earliest Cost Projection: Between $64 Billion and $92 Billion​


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