Irma death toll in US climbs to 17 as power is restored to over 2 million Florida customers

Jack Gruber/USA Today

Jack Gruber/USA Today

(Via ABC News)

The death toll from Hurricane Irma has climbed to 17 in the United States following its path of destruction across the Caribbean and through the Southeast U.S. over the weekend, while power has now been restored to over 2 million customers in Florida. At least 37 others died from Irma in the Caribbean, including at least 10 in Cuba.

By midday Tuesday, Florida Power & Light Co. had restored power to 2.3 million customers, which was 40 percent of those affected across the state; at least 4.7 million customers in Florida are still without power as of Tuesday afternoon. The company said its customers on the state’s east coast should expect most power to be restored by about September 17, while customers on the state’s west coast should expect most power to be restored by September 22.

After days of destruction, Irma — the first Category 4 landfall in Florida since 2004 — has dissipated. Now, evacuated Floridians are sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic to head home and face monumental cleanups throughout the state.

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday afternoon that he is set to travel to Florida on Thursday.

Tuesday morning, officials 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 was washed out.

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