Irma Recovery Begins; Storm Flooded Parts Of Florida, South Carolina And Georgia
As Florida residents assess damage left by Hurricane Irma, the system's latest victims include more than a million people without power in Georgia and South Carolina, where coastal areas also reported heavy flooding.
Irma is now a post-tropical cyclone in Alabama, a rainstorm with top winds of only 25 mph — a far cry from the Category 4 storm that ravaged the Florida Keys on Sunday.
Moody's Analytics estimates the economic cost of Hurricane Irma to be from $64 billion to $92 billion, a tally that includes both property damage and lost economic output.
Details about Hurricane Irma's destruction, and the effort to recover from it, are still emerging. Here are the stories we're seeing about a storm that caused evacuations and floods as its winds attacked trees and buildings:
The U.S. Navy has sent several ships near the Florida Keys, including the aircraft carrier the USS Abraham Lincoln, to lend personnel and supplies to the relief effort being led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Miami's international airport has resumed passenger and cargo flights, saying it will have a limited schedule on Tuesday. The first arrival was an American Airlines flight from Seattle that landed at 7:06 a.m.
Miami Beach lacks power, but all of its causeways were reopened Tuesday morning.
People who fled Irma in the Keys have been waiting for a chance to see how their homes and businesses fared during the storm, but they've been unable to return because of blocked roads and safety checks on bridges. On Tuesday morning, residents who live in the upper Keys, including Key Largo, Tavernier and Islamorada, are being allowed to drive home.
Key West was hit hard; here's an update from member station WLRN's Nancy Klingener:
"Life in Key West, at least for those of us who escaped major structural or water damage, has acquired a provisional ad hoc quality. It's like we've been transported to the pre-digital, pre-cellphone era. In fact, it's the pre-telephone era for most of us.
"So information — that commodity that used to be instantly available from that phone in your pocket — it's suddenly a scarce resource ....
"I have to show up where I hope someone will be, then write it down on paper and use that old stand-by word of mouth to get the information out. Like: The water will be on from 10 to 12 tomorrow so we can all shower and flush."
NPR's Kirk Siegler reports:
"We're starting to get a sense that there's going to be a huge humanitarian mission there. There are estimates of up to about 10,000 people who didn't evacuate — and they're going to have to be evacuated off the island at some point."
"Gov. Nathan Deal has expanded the state of emergency to include all counties in Georgia," Georgia Public Broadcasting reported as Irma hit the state Monday. "State government offices will be closed Monday and Tuesday except for essential personnel."
The station says coastal areas, including Savannah and Tybee Island and Brunswick, were under a storm surge warning of 4-6 feet. In Savannah, stately oaks were seen toppled — but local bar Pinkie Masters was serving thirsty customers after opening at 1:30 p.m., Savannah Now reports.
Flooding hit neighboring Tybee Island hard, covering neighborhoods with deep water and cutting off the island from Savannah.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports: "The storm surge reached 4.7 feet. A king tide, as it's known colloquially, is an especially high tide that coincides with a full moon. Unfortunately, it also coincided with Irma, and the storm surge combined with the tide resulted in swells of up to 15 feet."
Floodwaters are standing on parts of St. Simons Island, where many have also reported no electricity.
"Have not seen Georgia Power yet, but we know they're coming," Buff Leavy of the Brunswick News said in a video report Tuesday morning.
This is White Point Garden is Downtown Charleston! Inundated with saltwater. pic.twitter.com/mloLiYzJy3— Aaron Maybin (@Aaron_Maybin) September 11, 2017
"Incredible flooding going on in Downtown Charleston," the National Weather Service said Monday afternoon.
"At its height, the storm generated a nearly 10-foot tide," the Post and Courier reports. "That was 4 feet more than normal and among the worst tidal surges in 80 years after Hugo in 1989 and a storm in 1940. It was about 8 inches higher than last year's Hurricane Matthew."
The waters were so high in nearby Folly Beach that they freed a famous local landmark — a boat that had been deposited along a road by Hurricane Hugo in 1989, and which had become a popular canvas for graffiti art. It came to rest against a dock whose owner managed to tie a line to it.
Other coastal areas, including Hilton Head and Beaufort, also saw floods. And at Edisto Beach, which has struggled to rebuild after Hurricane Matthew hit it hard last October, the ocean once again pushed past the dunes and onto surface streets.
On Tuesday morning, more than a dozen South Carolina counties were either closed or opening on a delay to allow employees to deal with the storm's aftermath.