Irma death toll in US rises to 11; Florida Keys face ‘devastation’ – ABC News

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.

PHOTO: SJCFR Urban Search and Rescue teams are finding numerous homes throughout the county that have been damaged by high winds, fallen trees and flood waters.St. Johns County Fire Rescue/Facebook

SJCFR Urban Search and Rescue teams are finding numerous homes throughout the county that have been damaged by high winds, fallen trees and flood waters.

PHOTO: A car sits abandoned in storm surge waters along North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard as Hurricane Irma hits the southern part of the state Sept. 10, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A car sits abandoned in storm surge waters along North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard as Hurricane Irma hits the southern part of the state Sept. 10, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

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.

PHOTO: Members of the Pinto family gather on the ground floor of a hotel in Fort Myers, Fla., Sept. 10, 2017. Timothy Fadek / Redux for ABC News

Members of the Pinto family gather on the ground floor of a hotel in Fort Myers, Fla., Sept. 10, 2017.

As evacuated Floridians sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic to head home and face monumental cleanups throughout the state, the remnants of Irma is still bringing wind and rain to the Southeast.

Upper Keys and Miami Beach residents permitted to return home

The Florida Keys had been cut off from the mainland for days after 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.

PHOTO: The aftermath of Hurricane Irma is seen in Florida Keys, Fla, Sept. 11, 2017.Matt McClain/EPA

The aftermath of Hurricane Irma is seen in Florida Keys, Fla, Sept. 11, 2017.

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 affiliate WPLG-TV reported.

But water, power, sewer, medical services and cell service are still limited, Monroe County officials said today. In the meantime, shelters and distribution centers for food and water are being opened.

Florida’s Department of Transportation is also today working to repair two 300-foot stretches of road on the Keys that were washed out.

While the Keys were under mandatory evacuation orders as Irma neared, not everyone left. Florida Director of Emergency Management Bryan Koon estimates that about 10,000 people remained in the Keys during the storm, according to the Miami Herald.

County officials are working to restore services and make the county safe for residents in the Middle and Lower Keys to return, they said today, adding that this will take time.

Further north, Miami Beach residents were permitted to return this morning, too.

Clean up efforts were underway this morning on Miami Beach’s iconic Ocean Drive, which was covered in sand from the storm surge and wind. The area was littered with down trees and street signs, but appeared to escape without major structural damage.

Some business owners this morning removed boards from their windows, preparing to reopen.

PHOTO: Residents return to Miami Beach, Fla., Sept. 12, 2017.Rachel Scott/ABC News

Residents return to Miami Beach, Fla., Sept. 12, 2017.

Heavy rain in Georgia, South Carolina and Jacksonville

Irma moved north Monday, bringing heavy rain and wind through the northern Florida city of Jacksonville and then Georgia and South Carolina.

Wind gusts reached 64 mph in Atlanta, and the coastal city of Brunswick, Georgia, saw over 6 inches of rain.

Charleston, South Carolina, saw a nearly 10-foot storm surge. Five to 6 inches of rain fell in the area and winds reached 66 mph.

PHOTO: A Charleston, S.C. resident puts plastic up over his apartment door as a car rests in floodwaters near East Bay Street in Charleston, S.C., Sept. 10, 2017.Mic Smith/AP

A Charleston, S.C. resident puts plastic up over his apartment door as a car rests in floodwaters near East Bay Street in Charleston, S.C., Sept. 10, 2017.

Water raced through the streets of Jacksonville earlier Monday, bringing record levels of storm surge along the coast and inland rivers.

PHOTO: Street flooding is prevalent on the Southbank of downtown as Hurricane Irma passes by in Jacksonville, Fla., Sept. 11, 2017. Will Dickey/The Florida Times-Union via AP

Street flooding is prevalent on the Southbank of downtown as Hurricane Irma passes by in Jacksonville, Fla., Sept. 11, 2017.

Storm pummels Naples and Miami

After Irma left the Keys Sunday morning, it moved north, passing over Naples, which recorded a 142-mph wind gust. The city also saw nearly 12 inches of rain and a 7-foot storm surge. Farther north, wind gusts reached 94 mph in Lakeland and up to 90 mph in the Tampa Bay area.

PHOTO: A street is flooded as Hurricane Irma passes through Naples, Fla., Sept. 10, 2017.David Goldman/AP

A street is flooded as Hurricane Irma passes through Naples, Fla., Sept. 10, 2017.

PHOTO: Hurricane Irma causes damage in an East Naples mobile home park, in Naples, Fla., Sept. 11, 2017. Daniel William McKnight/Polaris

Hurricane Irma causes damage in an East Naples mobile home park, in Naples, Fla., Sept. 11, 2017.

In Miami, which saw winds up to 99 mph, resident Joe Kiener said he has endured multiple hurricanes in the Caribbean but had never experienced a storm as brutal as Irma.

“I’ve been in Miami Beach for two years, which is prone to flooding, but this is completely out of the norm,” Kiener told ABC News.

PHOTO: A vehicle passes downed palm trees and two cyclists attempt to ride as Hurricane Irma passes through the area on Sept. 10, 2017 in Miami Beach, Fla.Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A vehicle passes downed palm trees and two cyclists attempt to ride as Hurricane Irma passes through the area on Sept. 10, 2017 in Miami Beach, Fla.

Kiener boarded up his house and is staying at a high-rise hotel in Miami. He said he had to move down to the lobby after his hotel room windows took a beating from the strong winds.

“The windows started cracking, and these are massive-impact windows. They were exposed 12 hours of continuous heavy winds. At one point in time, one of them started splintering and that’s when I lost my nerve and said, ‘I’m leaving,'” he said. “It psyches you out; it’s just the endless hallowing and pounding of the wind.”

PHOTO: A gas station sign lies along Biscayne Boulevard after Hurricane Irma struck in Miami, Sept. 10, 2017.Erik S. Lesser/EPA

A gas station sign lies along Biscayne Boulevard after Hurricane Irma struck in Miami, Sept. 10, 2017.

President Donald Trump approved a “major disaster” declaration in Florida on Sunday, authorizing “federal funding to flow directly to Floridians impacted by Hurricane Irma and reimburs[ing] local communities and the state government to aid in response and recovery,” state officials said.

PHOTO: Evacuees sit inside of the Germain Arena that is serving as a shelter from the approaching Hurricane Irma, Sept. 9, 2017 in Estero, Florida. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Evacuees sit inside of the Germain Arena that is serving as a shelter from the approaching Hurricane Irma, Sept. 9, 2017 in Estero, Florida.

Trump may travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands, which suffered extreme destruction from the storm.

Fatalities in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and the Caribbean

At least seven people, including a sheriff’s deputy, died of storm-related injuries in Florida as the hurricane barreled across the state.

One person was killed in Monroe County, which includes the Florida Keys. The man was killed after he lost control of a truck that carried a generator as winds whipped at tropical-storm strength, officials said.

Two others, a sheriff’s deputy and a corrections officer, died from a two-car crash in the rain in Hardee County, which is about 60 miles inland from Sarasota, officials said.

In Winter Park, near Orlando, a man was electrocuted by a downed power line Monday morning, according to the Winter Park Police Department. He was pronounced dead at the scene after investigators found him lying in the street, police said.

PHOTO: Police officers climb atop a vehicle while trying to salvage it from the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in North Port, Fla., Sept. 11, 2017.Adrees Latif/Reuters

Police officers climb atop a vehicle while trying to salvage it from the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in North Port, Fla., Sept. 11, 2017.

Another person died from carbon monoxide poisoning from improper use of a generator in Miami-Dade County, the mayor said.

Another person died in Hillsborough County while cutting fallen tree branches.

Another fatality was from a car crash in Orange County in central Florida.

At least three people have died in Georgia as a result of the storm. In Sandy Springs, a man died while lying in bed after a large tree broke and fell on his home, Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul announced on Facebook.

In Forsyth County, a female passenger died after a downed tree struck her vehicle, the sheriff’s office said.

A third death was reported in Worth County.

At least two people have died in South Carolina: a 57-year-old man was killed after a tree limb fell on him and a 21-year-old died in a car crash.

At least 37 others died from Irma in the Caribbean, including at least 10 in Cuba.

ABC News’ Max Golembo, Dan Peck, Rachel Katz, Will Gretsky, Jason Volack, Gio Benitez, Rachel Scott, Ben Gittleson and Ben Stein contributed to this report.

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