Hurricane Irma hits Florida with wind, flooding

Hurricane Irma hits Florida with wind, flooding”

Trees bend in the tropical storm wind along North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard as Hurricane Irma hits the southern part of the state September 10 in Fort Lauderdale.

Delta Air Lines, which is based in Atlanta, said that it was closely monitoring Irma's track and "heavy winds and rain Monday [are] expected to impact some flights".

The Keys felt Irma's full fury when the storm blew ashore as a Category 4 hurricane on Sunday morning with 209km/h winds.

This huge hurricane is then forecast to move up the entire length of Florida peninsula Sunday.

During its march up Florida's west coast, Irma swamped homes, uprooted trees, flooded streets, snapped miles of power lines and toppled construction cranes.

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

A large area of the state's east and west coasts remained vulnerable to storm surges, when hurricanes push ocean water dangerously over normal levels.

Gov. Rick Scott, who spent the days before the storm hit beseeching the islands' residents to evacuate, said Monday that he is flying down to the Keys to survey the damage. As of Monday morning, 6.2 million customers were without power in Florida, according to the state's Department of Emergency Management. At one point, Irma's reach extended from South Florida to Jacksonville, its girth eclipsing the size of the state itself. In the Caribbean, at least 24 were people were killed during Irma's destructive trek across exclusive islands known as the vacation playground for the rich.

Darwin Tabacco, who stayed on Big Pine Key during Irma, is one of the luckiest residents. He said nearly every mobile home park in the Keys had overturned homes. The National Guard also has arrived in the island chain amid official fears that a humanitarian crisis may be developing in the stricken region.

Expected to be even more risky than the powerful winds are the storm surges that threaten Florida's coastal cities.

Jose is the fifth hurricane in the Atlantic so far this season, and one of three major hurricanes, which are Category 3 or stronger storms.

Some Florida utilities, including FPL, had warned customers it could take weeks to restore power in the hardest hit areas.

An update from Monroe County describes "an astounding recovery effort" taking place in the Florida Keys, where there was no water, power or cellphone service after the storm. Facebook groups were forming Monday to help from afar.

Puerto Rico: More than 6000 residents of the USA territory are in shelters and many more without power.

Hurricane Irma, despite having weakened past its transit over Cuba, still has enough power to slam Florida's Gulf Coast with sheets of rain and surging winds. Its two water parks, however, will not reopen until later in the week.

The Keys are cut off from the mainland, as the 42 bridges that link them are being assessed for damage.

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