Storm Irma wreaks havoc across Florida
Storm Irma wreaks havoc across Florida
Hurricane Irma has weakened into a still-dangerous tropical storm as it pushed inland, triggering record flooding in Florida's north-eastern corner.
The storm engulfed nearly the entire Flor ida peninsula, wreaking havoc from the state's southernmost point up to the Georgia line, from the Atlantic coast to the Gulf side.
It swamped homes, uprooted massive trees, flooded streets, cast boats ashore, snapped miles of power lines and toppled construction cranes.
More than 6.2 million homes and businesses remained without power, and 220,000 people huddled in shelters.
Officials warned it could take weeks for electricity to be restored to everyone.
No deaths in Florida were immediately linked to the storm.
At least 34 people were killed in the Caribbean as Irma ravaged a string of resort islands long known as holiday playgrounds for the rich.
Irma's wrath in the Sunshine State stretched hundreds of miles.
In the Keys, where the storm roared ashore on Sunday morning with winds of 130mph, search crews planned door-to-door checks on residents.
In Coral Gables, near Miami, fallen trees made streets look like jungles and damaged power lines buzzed.
In Estero near the state's south-west corner, people sat in puddles in a crowded arena-turned-shelter.
More than 400 miles from where Irma first came ashore, storm surge brought flooding to the Jacksonville area at levels not seen in more than 50 years, with at least 46 people pulled from swamped homes.
"Stay inside unless you are in danger," forecasters warned.
The full breadth of the damage statewide remained unknown, with communications and travel cut off by high winds and flooding.
As of mid-morning, Irma's outer bands were also blowing into Georgia, where the storm's centre was expected to arrive later.
From there, Irma is expected to push into Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee on Tuesday and Wednesday.
A tropical storm warning was issued for the first time ever in Atlanta, and school was cancelled in communities around the state.
More than 100, 000 were without power in Georgia.
The monster storm arrived in Florida as a fearsome Category 4 hurricane but soon weakened.
By Monday morning, Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm, with winds of 65mph.
People in the heavily populated Tampa-St Petersburg area were braced for its first direct hit from a major hurricane since 1921.
But by the time it struck in the middle of the night on Monday its winds were 100mph or less.
Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn said the situation was not as bad as it could have been but warned residents that dangerous storm surge continued.
He also reported downed power lines and other debris.
"What we feared the most was the surge," he said. "The surge is yet to be finished."
Video from the Keys area showed a pick-up truck zig-zagging over the centre line to avoid several boats tossed on to the road.
Nearby, houses were shoved from their foundations and trees and other de bris blocked a road.
East of Tampa, winds knocked a utility pole and power lines on to a sheriff's vehicle in Polk County.
A deputy and a paramedic, who had just escorted an elderly patient to safety, were trapped for two hours until a crew could free them. Both were unhurt.
More than 120 homes were being evacuated just outside Orlando as floodwaters started to pour in.
Firefighters and National Guardsmen went door-to-door and used boats to ferry families to safety.
A few miles away, 30 others had to be evacuated when a 60ft sinkhole opened up under an apartment building. No injuries were reported.
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