Miami: Aid rushed in to hurricane-scarred Florida on Tuesday, residents began to dig out, and officials slowly pieced together the scope of Irma's vicious path of destruction across the peninsula.
Even as glimmers of hope emerged from parts of the state forecasters once worried would be razed by the storm, the fate of the Florida Keys, where Irma rumbled through with Category 4 muscle, remained largely a question mark. Communication and access were cut and authorities dangled only vague assessments of ruinous impact.
"It's devastating," Florida Gov. Rick Scott said after emerging from a Monday fly-over of the Keys. A Navy aircraft carrier was due to anchor off Key West to help in search-and-rescue efforts. Drinking water supplies in the Keys were cut off, fuel was running low and all three hospitals in the island chain were shuttered. The governor described overturned mobile homes, washed-ashore boats and rampant flood damage.
During its march up Florida’s west coast, Irma swamped homes, uprooted trees, flooded streets, snapped miles of power lines and toppled construction cranes.
A stunning 13 million people, two-thirds of the third- largest state's residents, plodded on in the tropical heat without electricity, and nearly every corner of Florida felt Irma's power. In a parting blow to the state before pushing on to Georgia and beyond, the storm caused record flooding in and around Jacksonville, causing untold damage and prompting dozens of rescues. It also spread misery into Georgia and South Carolina as it moved inland with winds at 50 mph, causing flooding and power outages.
Six deaths in Florida have been blamed on Irma, along with three in Georgia and one in South Carolina. At least 35 people were killed in the Caribbean. More than 180,000 people huddled in shelters in the Sunshine State and officials warned it could take weeks for electricity to be restored to everyone. "How are we going to survive from here?" asked Gwen Bush, who waded through thigh-deep floodwaters outside her central Florida home to reach National Guard rescuers and get a ride to a shelter. "What's going to happen now? I just don't know." The governor said it was way too early to put a dollar estimate on the damage.
French President To Visit Caribbean Islands Hit By Irma
Paris: President Emmanuel Macron will visit French Caribbean islands hammered by Hurricane Irma where residents have criticized the government for not doing enough to prepare them for the storm's devastation.
Macron's plane is bringing water, food and tons of medicines and emergency equipment. He will first visit Guadeloupe today morning before heading to St Martin to meet with residents, and then to St Barts. The president is also being accompanied by doctors and experts who will be in charge of evaluating the damage. St Martin was one of the hardest-hit islands where 10 people were killed.
About 1,500 troops, police and emergency workers were on the ground to help islanders, and 500 others were expected to arrive in the coming days, according to French authorities.
British FM Flying To Caribbean After Criticism Of Irma Aid
London: Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is flying to British territories in the Caribbean today following intense criticism of London's efforts to help communities devastated by Hurricane Irma.
Johnson, who has dismissed the criticism from local residents and British tourists as "completely unjustified", will visit the affected British Overseas Territories, the foreign ministry said on Twitter. French President Emmanuel Macron is visiting the French- Dutch territory of St Martin on Tuesday and Dutch King Willem-Alexander travelled there on Monday. Britain has sent more than 700 troops and 50 police officers to the British Virgin Islands after Irma swept through last week. Six people have been killed in the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla.
Britain has also dispatched 10 humanitarian flights and pledged £32 million (35 million euros, $42 million) in aid for the territories, which are under British sovereignty but not part of the United Kingdom. A British navy ship has also been assisting victims of the hurricane since last week and a second warship, the HMS Ocean, is due to set off from Gibraltar Tuesday but will only arrive in the Caribbean in 12 days' time.
But local residents say the government was not prepared and the aid has been too slow to arrive. The families of some British tourists stranded on St Martin have also complained that their loved ones are not being evacuated from the island.