President Donald Trump has signed a disaster declaration that should speed federal funding to damaged areas in Florida. The company has restored power to about 1 million customers so far but CEO Eric Silagy said Monday that "even though we are restoring power, people need to be prepared for some prolonged and extended outages". Timmer says FEMA is estimating 65% of the homes on Key West have major damage, but it's much worse in areas to the east, including Summerland, Cudjoe, and Big Pine Keys. He said 19,500 electric workers have been deployed in the restoration effort.
Six deaths in Florida have been blamed on Irma, along with three in Georgia and one in SC. The St. Johns River overflowed into several neighborhoods. The National Hurricane Center said it is expected to remain a hurricane through Monday morning. At least 36 people were killed in the Caribbean as the storm closed in on the US mainland.
Irma's peak winds of 105 miles per hour, with higher gusts, had dropped 20 miles per hour from the morning, making it a Category 2 hurricane (down from a Category 4).
"It's the worst storm I've ever seen", said Bill South, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration tropical weather program meteorologist.
Hurricane Irma remains a unsafe Category 2 hurricane despite weakening a bit more to 100 miles per hour. It made the first landfall as a Category 4 storm at 9:10 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 10, in the Florida Keys and later hit Marco Island at 3:35 p.m.as a Category 3.
"The first bit of good news is that some hurricane warnings have been downgraded to tropical storm warnings in south Florida", the weather report noted.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said the storm left "devastation" on the Keys, which were under mandatory evacuation orders during Irma.
Hundreds of families in the Suncoast Estates trailer park in North Fort Myers, Florida, face the challenge of rebuilding an already struggling community.
One couple who had taken shelter inside their store filmed as the water level rose outside their windows and began to seep through the cracks under the door, trapping them inside.
Dozens of eager Keys residents parked their cars along USA 1 Monday, staying there through the night to make sure they could get onto the Keys when access was granted, ABC Miami affiliate WPLG-TV reported.
Streets emptied across the bottom half of the Florida peninsula, and some 127,000 people huddled in shelters.
Over the next two days, Irma is expected to push to the northwest, into Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee.
So far, few images of the damage have popped up, as the storm takes its final breaths on Florida.
It left more than 20 people dead across the Caribbean, and as Irma moved north over the Gulf of Mexico's bathtub-warm water of almost 90 degrees, it started to regain strength. Ten people were killed on the French island of Saint Barthélémy - known colloquially as St Barts - and on the French part of Saint Martin which it shares with the Netherlands.