The death toll from Irma, which tore a path of destruction across the Caribbean and through the Southeast, has climbed to 12 in the United States as power was restored today for over 2 million customers in Florida.
By mid-day today, Florida Power & Light Co. had restored power to 2.3 million customers, which was 40 percent of the affected customers. Still without power in Florida are 4.4 million customers.
The company said its customers on the state’s east coast should expect most power to be restored by about Sept. 17, while customers on the state’s west coast should expect most power to be restored by Sept. 22.
As evacuated Floridians sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic to head home and face monumental cleanups throughout the state, Irma, though weekend, is still bringing wind and rain to the Southeast. Irma was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone this morning and is expected to bring heavy rain today to the Carolinas, Kentucky and Tennessee.
Upper Keys and Miami Beach residents permitted to return home
The Florida Keys had been cut off from the mainland for days since Irma made landfall on the low-lying islands Sunday morning as a Category 4 hurricane, bringing 130 mph winds and a storm surge of 10 feet. It was the first Category 4 landfall in Florida since 2004.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said the storm left “devastation” on the Keys, which were under mandatory evacuation orders during Irma. At least one person died on the Keys.
Officials finally this morning opened entry into the Upper Keys for residents in Key Largo, Tavernier and Islamorada, up to mile marker 73, allowing residents to return home and see the damage for themselves.
Dozens of eager Keys residents parked their cars along U.S. 1 Monday, staying there through the night to make sure they could get onto the Keys when access was granted, ABC Miami…