Irma downgraded to tropical storm, death toll rises

  • 12/09/2017

Storm-shocked Floridians are returning to shattered homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which has left more than half of all state residents without power and city streets underwater.

Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm early on Monday (local time), and had ranked as one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes on record.

Some 6.5 million people, about one-third of Florida's population, had been ordered from their homes ahead of Irma's arrival, and more than 200,000 people sought refuge in about 700 shelters, according to state data.

In Miami, which escaped the worst of Irma's winds but experienced heavy flooding, residents in the city's Little Haiti neighbourhood returned to the wreckage of trailer homes that were shredded by the storm.

As Irma crossed into Georgia, the storm's tidal surge unleashed flooding in coastal communities. In Charleston, waves crashed over the city's Battery sea wall and filled downtown streets for blocks.

One of the biggest lingering problems was widespread power outages, with utilities reporting more than 7.4 million homes and businesses without electricity in Florida and neighbouring states. They said it could take weeks to fully restore service.