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Hurricane Irma Downgraded To Tropical Storm Amid Severe Flooding

12 September 2017

Power outages from Hurricane Irma in Florida and nearby states declined to about 6.9 million customers on Tuesday from a peak over 7.4 million late Monday as utilities organized one of the biggest restoration efforts in US history.

Media reports link at least four deaths to the storm.

Winds gusts will continue to increase and could become as high as 40mph.

Irma crossed over the Florida Keys Sunday morning and was headed for the state's southwest coast with maximum sustained winds of 130 miles (215 kilometers) per hour, making it a unsafe Category 4 storm, the second worst on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

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Massive 10ft (3.1m) storm surges overwhelmed roads and buildings, and cut off Florida Keys from the mainland.

- Strong winds and flash flooding are still a threat as Irma spins into north Florida and toward Georgia over the next 24 hours.

Speaking on "Fox News Sunday" as Irma began its assault on Florida on Sunday morning, Long called the storm a "complex event" in particular because of its movement from the southern part of the state to the north. We won't have hurricane force winds in the state, but tropical storm force winds are possible in the Lowcountry.

Morgan said that evacuation shelters, which held 700 people before Monday, were expected to fill up even more.

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Those who stay are "putting their lives in danger", he said.

While there have been many Atlantic cyclone seasons with more major hurricanes than 2017, this is the first time on record that two category 4 hurricanes have made landfall in the US. Drinking water supplies in the Keys were cut off, fuel was running low and all three hospitals in the island chain were shuttered. Nearly every mobile home park in the Keys had overturned homes, according to the governor.

HURRICANE Irma is showing signs of weakening and could be downgraded to a tropical storm on Monday. John Ward, the emergency operations manager of Clay County, says crews have pulled 46 people from flooded homes by early Monday and an undetermined number are still stranded as the area's creeks and ponds are getting record flooding. The fifth fatality was reported in Orange County, which is near Orlando, after a vehicle crash that was deemed related to the hurricane.

Storm surge warnings were in place for Tampa Bay, from the South Santee River in SC to the Flagler/Volusia County line on the Atlantic Coast and from Cape Sable northward to the Ochlockonee River on the Gulf of Mexico.

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At least 26 people were arrested for burglary and looting Sunday night in Miami, and schools, airports and Orlando's DisneyWorld were on the list of closures.

Hurricane Irma Downgraded To Tropical Storm Amid Severe Flooding