Parts of Florida inched back toward normalcy on Wednesday with workers restoring power, clearing roads and replenishing gas supplies, even as scenes of destruction emerged from southernmost islands and new dangers emerged for residents without electricity.
Residents drifted back from shelters and out-of-state hotels to see Hurricane Irma’s scattershot destruction. Positive signs included some curfews being lifted, flights resuming and grocery stores reopening. But flooded streets remained, and the count of damaged and totaled homes ticked upward.
Watch a time-lapse video captured by the Associated Press that shows the impact Hurricane Irma had on the Miami Beach area:
A time-lapse video captured by the Associated Press shows the impact Hurricane Irma had on the Miami Beach area. pic.twitter.com/F5wlJoUKM8
— The Associated Press (@AP) September 12, 2017
“Everything’s gone,” said Jen Gilreath, a 33-year-old bartender whose Jacksonville home filled with knee-high floodwaters.
While people around the state waited for power to be restored, a new hazard developed: carbon monoxide poisoning from generators. Authorities said that five people died and more than a dozen were treated for breathing fumes from the temporary power sources in separate instances in the Orlando, Miami and Daytona Beach areas.
One Miami-area apartment building was evacuated after authorities determined a lack of power made it unsafe for elderly tenants, while officers arrived at another retirement community to help people stranded on upper floors without access to working elevators. Elsewhere, a South Florida townhouse that weathered the storm was gutted by fire when power was restored, causing the stove to ignite items left on the cooktop.
As crews laboured to repair the lone highway connecting the Keys, residents of some of the islands closest to Florida’s mainland returned to get their first look at the devastation two days after Irma roared in with 130 mph (209 kph) winds.