FLORIDA CITY/MARCO ISLAND, Fla. (Reuters) – Parts of the storm-ravaged Florida Keys will allow residents to return on Tuesday to survey damage from Hurricane Irma, which devastated the state with high winds and storm surges that destroyed homes and left millions without power.
Downgraded to a tropical storm early on Monday, Irma had ranked as one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes. It caused record flooding in parts of Florida after it left a path of deadly destruction on several Caribbean islands.
The U.S. aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln has arrived off Florida’s east coast and two amphibious assault ships will arrive on Tuesday to help in the Keys, where Irma first made landfall on Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane. The military will distribute food and help evacuate 10,000 Keys residents who did not leave before the storm, the U.S. Department of Defense said.
Heather Carruthers, the Monroe County Commissioner, said people had been killed in the archipelago, where nearly 80,000 permanent residents live, apart from one already known fatality. She did not have a count on how many.
“We are finding some remains,” she said in an interview with CNN. Video footage of the islands showed homes torn apart by sustained winds of up to 130 mph (210 kph), which left the Keys without electricity, running water and cell phone service.
Several major airports in Florida that halted passenger operations due to Irma will begin limited service on Tuesday, including Miami International, one of the nation’s busiest airports. Irma scrambled transport in the major tourist hub, leading to thousands of flight cancellations and one of the largest evocations in U.S. history.
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