Florida rallies as Irma dies down … while Hurricane Jose 'lingers' in the Atlantic

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Hurricane-lashed residents of Florida have begun to rebuild their lives after superstorm Irma wrought devastation as it charged up the peninsular.

Five died and millions are without power after Irma tore the roofs off buildings, toppled cranes and swallowed up streets before it was downgraded to a tropical storm and continued inland.

But residents of the Sunshine State rallied as dawn broke on Monday morning and people began to assess the damage caused by the historic hurricane.

Nearly 4.5 million homes and businesses have lost power and officials warn it could take weeks to restore electricity to all those affected.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Jose lingered in the Atlantic amid fears it could graze the eastern coast of Florida or the Caribbean later this week.

Despite being downgraded to Category 3, the follow-up storm is carrying winds in excess of 100mph as it swirls in the middle of the ocean.

Irma arrived in Florida on Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane and toppled at least three constructions cranes – two over central Miami and one in Fort Lauderdale – as it ripped into the state.

In Naples water levels rose 7ft in just 90 minutes as storm surges inundated homes and businesses, the National Hurricane Center said. 

People in the heavily populated Tampa-St Petersburg area had feared a first direct hit from a major hurricane since 1921, but the storm weakened to a Category 2 as it approached the area.

Orlando was also battered before a weakened Irma continued up the peninsular towards the state of Georgia.

As the sun rose in Orlando, many tried to survey the damage, but authorities warned that conditions remain dangerous and asked people not to venture outside because of a curfew.

Rescue efforts were ramped up in evacuated neighbourhoods with Guardsmen in helmets and fatigues ploughing through standing water in a high-clearance vehicle.

Some 6.4 million people were forced to flee their homes in Florida alone in one of the largest US evacuations ever.

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