Just about the entire state of Florida was effected by Hurricane Irma. From power outages everywhere to 25% of the houses destroyed/65% of homes sustaining major damage in the Florida Keys to record flooding in Jacksonville way up in the northeast tip of the state.
Irma is now a tropical depression (post-tropical cyclone) and is expected to continue to weaken as it makes it's way toward the Tennessee Valley.
And it was not as bad as we all thought it might be going in.
“We didn’t dodge a bullet, we dodged a cannon,” Mr. Levine(mayor of Miami Beach) said on Monday. “And we’re very happy about that.” - NYT
But it will still take a long time to bring everything back to up to snuff. The main task will be getting power back to the millions who are sitting in unairconditioned buildings in sweltering heat.
I am reading figures of customers that lost power that go from 5.6 million to possibly 15 million. I am reading 53% of the population,63% of the population, three-quarters of the population... are without power this morning. (It all depends if they are counting household accounts or estimating the number of people within each of those households) But that figure is dropping as crews are working furiously to get power back online.
Christopher Krebs’s (assistant secretary for Infrastructure Protection at the Department of Homeland Security) figure was higher than those offered Monday by utility companies supplying power to a large number of Floridians.
Eric Silagy, president and chief executive of Florida Power and Light, the state’s largest utility and which powers half of the state, said Monday as many as 9 million people were affected by his company’s outages alone. Shawna Berger, a spokeswoman for Duke Energy, said 1.2 million of its 1.8 million customers were without power Monday in the state. Berger said if you multiply that number by 2.5 — per the latest census data, she said — it shows that 3 million people were affected at the peak blackouts. - WP
In some areas that restoration could take weeks.
In densely populated Pinellas County west of Tampa, about 70 percent of Duke Energy’s customers, or 395,000 people, were without electricity, with no immediate restoration in sight. Mayor Tomás Regalado of Miami said a similar fraction of his city was dark, with roads left impassable and traffic lights not working. In Orlando, about half the city’s utility customers had no service.
At the White House, Thomas P. Bossert, the president’s Homeland Security adviser, said repairing the electrical system would require “the largest-ever mobilization of line restoration workers in this country, period.” - NYT
36 hospitals remain closed and 24 nursing homes/54 hospitals are now on back up generators.
Even as far away as Georgia and South/North Carolina they felt the effects. Hundreds of flights remain canceled in Atlanta - one of the country's key air traffic hubs. A million in those states lost power during the storm (800,000 reported in Georgia alone) and downtown Charleston,S.C. was flooded.
"I really didn't expect it to become this bad here," Charleston resident Mike Stusnick said Tuesday. "It came in really fast last night. ... We were just praying that it didn't come all the way into the house, and it didn't." - CNN
On the small barrier island of Isle of Palms in South Carolina there was serious flooding. This seems to be the main effect along coastal areas - lot of streets flooded.
But it was the Florida Keys that saw the most damage. Water,power and sewer lines are now non-functioning. Phone lines are down and Highway US Route 1 is still inaccessible. Mobile homes and boats - both which liberally populate the Keys,are now overturned littering streets and lots.
Paul Keever, a 56-year-old evacuee from Key Largo, said that the storm battered his 27-slip sailboat marina. “Boats are setting on top of pilings, boats on top of boats,” he said by phone from Orlando, where he had evacuated with his 21-year-old daughter. - WSJ
Darwin Tabacco, who stayed on Big Pine Key during Irma, is one of the luckiest residents. Both he and his house survived.
"A lot of people lost everything," he said Tuesday morning. "There's homes blown off the stilts. There's power lines down all over the place. Trees completely uprooted. People's businesses flooded. Septic fields flooding. It's just terrible." - CNN
Depending on what part of the Keys a person lives,residents who evacuated may not be able to return for weeks until basic services like water and sewer are brought back on line. The 10,000 who remained may now need to be evacuated,although officials say there are no immediate plans for evacuation.
A Facebook page called “Evacuees of the Keys” has been started and now has over 7,000 members all frantically posting, hoping to find word of family,friends and neighbors making it through the storm safely.
William Rose told CNN his family in the Keys is unreachable. He's not sure whether his mother, stepdad, grandmother and aunt survived.
"I have no idea, but I'm trying to stay positive," Rose said.
Before the Keys lost cell phone service, he received a text from his mother, who chose not to evacuate.
"This is terrible. I will never do this again," the text read. "I'm so glad you got out." -CNN
Authorities in Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys, said they would begin allowing residents and business owners to return to some parts of the archipelago on Tuesday morning, including Key Largo, Tavernier and Islamorada.(upper keys nearest Miami)
In a message posted online, Monroe County officials said people heading back to the Keys should remember that “most areas are still without power and water,” cellphone reception is questionable and most gas stations remain shut. - WP
In Jacksonville,there were fears that the worst is yet to come with the St.John's River that runs through the middle of the city ready to spill over the top and continued heavy rain (so far a foot of rainfall) that is flooding the streets of the downtown area. Officials are still concerned that neighborhoods could be flooded continuing into the week. 356 people were rescued from flooding.
Jacksonville found itself caught between three water threats, city officials said: High tides, the storm surge driven by Irma’s winds and the torrential rains over the weekend that have swollen rivers and streams. - NYT
And in the middle of the state,low areas in Orlando were flooded to the point the National Guard and Fire Rescue teams started getting calls at 2 am Monday that their streets had become rivers 3 - 6 feet deep. 150 people were rescued.
“We woke up to a lake outside in my yard, and three feet of floodwaters inside my man-cave,” said Mr. Jenkins, a doughnut maker. “Everywhere you looked, there was water.” - NYT
AIR Worldwide is saying they believe the private-sector insured losses in the U.S. will be $20 to $40 billion from Irma. Katrina's damage was $50 billion (inflation-adjusted). Insurance companies are saying that while they have the adjustors ready to go to work in Florida,the problem is getting them down to those hardest hit locations because of the debris in the roads.
And of course,now we are hearing that people are upset that they had to evacuate when they feel there was no need.
From Washington Post:
In Miami, some residents expressed frustration about the evacuations, which in many cases ultimately weren’t necessary.
“Everyone got stirred up, and they were told to leave,” said Sara Edelman, 29, a biologist walking along 104th Street with her mother, Philis Edelman, 60, an officer worker. “And now there’s no one to clean the trees up.”
Dan Zumpano, 44, who lives nearby, said he believes authorities began evacuations “way too early” in an abundance of caution, driving people from places that ultimately weren’t seriously impacted by the storm into areas that were: “I thought it was the right thing to do, but I think they sent a lot of people right into the core of the hurricane.”
That was a familiar story: People who evacuated from Miami to Tampa. And then, in some cases, from Tampa to Orlando. The storm followed many of them the entire time. “Every day you saw the models changing,” Zumpano said.