Irma claims another life as devastated Florida begins to pick up the pieces

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Deadly storm Irma has claimed another life as it continued its destructive path into mainland America.

While hurricane-lashed residents of Florida picked up the pieces amid the destruction, Irma crashed into Georgia and killed a person as rain flooded coastal communities.

Winds sent trees crashing into homes and the world’s busiest airport in Atlanta cancelled hundreds of flights as the storm’s punch was felt across the state despite its downgraded status as a tropical storm.

The storm death occurred in south-west Georgia, where Irma’s centre crossed over from Florida on Monday afternoon.

Downgraded: Satellite images show the weakened yet still powerful tropical storm barrelling further into mainland America (NASA)

In the Sunshine State, at least four other people were confirmed dead and millions remained without power after Irma tore the roofs off buildings, toppled cranes and swallowed up streets.

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

Relief operations got underway as up to six million homes across Florida were without power, with officials warning it could take weeks to restore electricity to all those affected.

In the hardest-hit area of Florida Keys, on the state’s southern tip, authorities expressed concerns about a “humanitarian crisis”.

Assessing the damage: A resident stands outside his flooded home in Bonita Springs, Florida (Getty)

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.

Four people are believed to have died as the storm lashed the Sunshine 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.

It came after the storm swept a devastating path across the Caribbean, killing dozens on islands including Cuba, St Martin and the British Virgin Islands.


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