Hurricane Irma, which toppled cranes, inundated streets and left more than 5.7 million customers without power, had weakened into a tropical storm Monday morning — while still pummeling parts of Florida as it slogged north to Georgia.
At least five deaths have been linked to the storm, according to reports, but officials warn that the number was preliminary and could climb.
“We don’t have a comprehensive insight into what the damage is,” Florida director of emergency management Bryan Koon said late Sunday, the Miami Herald reported. “We will work on those at first light. I don’t have any numbers on fatalities at this point.”
Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsey has also declared an indefinite dusk-to-dawn curfew in the Florida Keys, which remains off limits amid widespread destruction, the paper reported Monday.
“Anyone out after the designated times is subject to arrest,” said a statement released by the sheriff’s office. “This curfew is necessary due to the unsafe conditions throughout Monroe County and for security.”
Monroe County emergency management chief Martin Senterfitt called the destruction a looming “humanitarian crisis” and said the Air Force and National Guard were planning an airborne relief mission — including what he called “disaster mortuary teams.”
At 8 a.m., Irma’s maximum sustained winds decreased to near 70 mph and it was moving north-northwest at 18 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. It was centered about 105 miles north-northwest of Tampa.
By Tuesday afternoon, it was expected to become a tropical depression, the hurricane center said.
In addition to the more than 5.7 million homes and businesses left without power across Florida — about 58 percent of all customers in the state — more than 73,000 were without electricity in Georgia as of 6 a.m. Monday, officials said.
In Florida’s Orange, Seminole, Lake and Osceola counties, 625,000 homes and businesses were left without power, more than half of the customers, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
“As the day dawns across east central Florida, residents and visitors can expect to awaken to the sobering sight of widespread wind damage, which will be extensive in some areas,’’ read a statement from the National Weather Service in Melbourne.
“The sheer magnitude of power outages across Florida is likely to be…