The Latest: Florida police warn of post-Irma scams
MIAMI - The Latest on Irma (all times local):
Police across Florida are warning of scams in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
Boynton Beach police spokeswoman Stephanie Slater said in a news release that two men posing as power company workers stole nearly $13,000 in jewelry from a 95-year-old woman.
Slater says the woman was sitting in her living room with the front door open Monday afternoon when the men walked in. They told the woman they were checking switches to restore power. She told police one man remained in the living room while she escorted the other man through the house, flipping light switches.
According to a police report, the men told the woman her power would come on shortly. She later discovered that her jewelry and some cash had been stolen.
Police say there is no reason for anyone with a power company to enter individual homes at this time. Any power company officials will be credentialed and most will be driving vehicles marked with company signage.
South Carolina officials say a man was killed in a wreck on a wet and windy interstate as Irma moved past.
Public Safety Director Leroy Smith said 21-year-old Zhen Tain died in the crash on Interstate 77 east of Columbia around 3:15 p.m. Monday.
Troopers say Tain crashed into another car and his Ford Mustang flipped, trapping him inside. Authorities say the second driver was taken to the hospital. Her condition was not known.
Troopers say the wreck is still under investigation.
The National Weather Service says there was heavy rain in Columbia with wind gusts around 40 mph when the wreck happened.
Tain is the second person killed in South Carolina during Irma. Authorities say a man was hit by a falling limb while clearing debris near his home Monday afternoon in Calhoun Falls.
Smith says Tain was driving too fast for conditions losing control on the wet road, hitting the other vehicle before flipping over on its roof, trapping Tain inside.
Florida’s governor says that bridges linking the Florida Keys appeared to escape serious damage from Hurricane Irma, but more time is needed to finish inspections.
Gov. Rick Scott said Tuesday that officials continue to check the 42 Overseas Highway bridges that link the Florida Keys together. He said none appear seriously damaged but that “we’re not sure that on the bridges we should be putting on significant weight.”
Residents were allowed to return Tuesday to some islands in the Upper Keys. But there was a roadblock preventing people from accessing islands further away while repairs and inspections continue.
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida remains closed, but appears to have weathered Hurricane Irma well.
The same holds true at adjoining Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Inspection crews were out in full force Tuesday.
Power has been restored to NASA and Air Force facilities but water service is out. Until that’s restored, Kennedy will stay closed to non-essential personnel.
Over at Kennedy’s tourist area, life-size replicas of the space shuttle fuel tank and booster rockets were still standing outside the home of shuttle Atlantis. No major damage has been reported at the visitor complex.
Brigadier General Wayne Monteith, who’s in charge of Air Force operations says, “We dodged another bullet.” Last October, Hurricane Matthew stayed safely off shore. On Monday, Irma remained well to the west of Cape Canaveral.
Officials in Miami Beach allowed residents to return to their homes Tuesday morning after Hurricane Irma pounded Florida with wind and rain.
A long line of cars amassed on Interstate 195 at 6:55 a.m. Tuesday, waiting for the road blocks to be taken down.
The entryways have been blocked since Sunday night so crews could remove numerous downed branches from main arteries and clear debris.
To re-enter the beach, residents must show a state ID or other proof of residency.
The Public Prosecutor’s office in Dutch St. Maarten says police and soldiers there have put an end to what it calls “large-scale robberies and looting” in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
The office released a statement saying it doesn’t know how many people have been arrested but that some accused of minor offenses have been released and some have been assigned to help the Caribbean island clean up from the ravages of the storm.
The government only has enough space to detain only those accused of the most serious offenses.
The statement released Tuesday says authorities there have photos and videos of suspects involved in looting and robbery and will be working with the public to identify them in the coming days.
Jacksonville sheriff’s officials said on Twitter that 356 people were rescued from flooding on Monday as Hurricane Irma moved over Florida.
And they tweeted some advice for them: “We hope the 356 people who had their lives saved yesterday will take evacuation orders seriously in the future.”
Sheriff’s officials also said that all bridges leading into downtown Jacksonville have re-opened.
They noted that many roads are still blocked or flooded Tuesday morning and motorist are urged to treat intersections without working red lights as four-way stops.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the government’s “top priority” is to help the populations return to normal life in French Caribbean territories that have been hit by Hurricane Irma.
Macron said in a news conference in Pointe-a-Pitre airport, in Guadeloupe, that a major air bridge is bringing emergency aid and rescuers to St. Martin and St. Barts islands.
He added that about 1,900 police and troops are now on the ground to ensure security in St. Martin, one of the hardest-hit islands where 11 people were killed.
Macron said power was restored in about 50 percent of homes in St. Martin. He also hoped some schools will be able to open as soon as next week. All of the island’s schools have been damaged or destroyed.
Macron is now heading to St. Martin to meet with residents. He’ll then go to St. Barts.
FEMA Administrator Brock Long says the Florida Keys “took the brunt of the hit” from Hurricane Irma and it will take time to survey the damage there before residents there can return.
In a news conference Tuesday, Long says of Monroe County: “A majority of the homes there have been impacted in some way” with homes destroyed or damaged.
Long says Irma damage is more complex than Hurricane Harvey, affecting the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Florida’s Seminole Tribe, which relies on the federal government for disaster relief.
Federal officials are warning of possible fuel shortages in the Southeast because of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
Last week, the Homeland Security Department issued a week-long waiver on federal restrictions of foreign vessels so they could help distribute fuel. Officials noted this action should help, but urged patience.
Christopher Krebs, head of infrastructure protection for the Homeland Security Department, told reporters Tuesday that Harvey took a “significant amount” of the nation’s refining capacity offline and affected distribution. “As a result,” he said, “there may be some fuel supply shortages throughout the Southeast.”
Millions of people across Florida remain without power in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
Florida’s Division of Emergency Management reported Tuesday morning that more than 5 million customers didn’t have electricity. That’s more than half of the state.
The number of actual people affected is likely much higher since utilities are reporting the number of accounts affected by outages.
Some areas such as Collier County, the location of the storm’s second landfall, report more that more than 90 percent of homes and businesses are without electricity.
The mayor of Jacksonville, Florida, says his city has the money it needs to begin rebuilding after Hurricane Irma.
Mayor Lenny Curry tells NBC’s “Today” that his city is on firm financial ground. He says it can begin rebuilding as it works with the federal and state governments to secure additional funding.
Curry says he doesn’t have an estimate for what it will cost to repair the damage.
In Washington, Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, says officials are keeping an eye on flooding in Jacksonville from the St. John River.
Long says authorities are still conducting “life-safety” missions in Jacksonville due to the severe flooding.
Mayor Curry says the flooding could take weeks to subside.
Federal officials say their focus Tuesday in storm-ravaged Florida will be on deploying aircraft to survey the damage and orchestrate any needed rescues.
They’re warning residents not to return home until local authorities declare their area safe.
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke told reporters in Washington “our No. 1 concern today is with saving lives.”
Duke says weather is cooperating, and the Defense Department and other federal agencies are contributing resources. She says: “We are working to get as many aircraft in the air as possible.”
Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, says of Irma damage: “This is going to be a frustrating event” and it will likely be “some time” before people are allowed back into their homes.
A 55-year-old Florida man died when the chain saw he was using to clear trees in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma became entangled in a branch, causing it to kick up and cut his carotid artery.
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Cristal Nunez said in a news release that Wilfredo Hernandez was clearing trees in Tampa on Monday afternoon when the accident occurred.
Nunez said deputies used a harness to lower the man from the tree, but he died at the scene.
Officials in the upper Florida Keys are allowing residents and business owners to return after Hurricane Irma.
People were able to return to Monroe County as of 7 a.m. EDT Tuesday.
In a Facebook posting, Monroe County officials said a yellow re-entry sticker or proof of residency or business ownership will be required.
County officials said a roadblock will be put around mile marker 74, where part of U.S. 1 was washed out by Hurricane Irma, which slammed into the state Sunday as a Category 4 storm. A road crew is expected to begin repairs Tuesday.
Officials warned returning residents that there are limited services available. Most areas are still without power and water and cellphone service is limited. Most gas stations in the Key Largo area are still closed.
Crews are working to clear U.S. 1, the only road that runs north/south through the Florida Keys.
County officials also said Mariners Hospital in Tavernier was expected to reopen Tuesday morning.
More than 1.2 million customers in Georgia are without power after Irma swirled into the state.
Georgia Power will be starting to assess damages on Tuesday. The utility company says much of the state including coastal Georgia and metro Atlanta experienced the most outages after parts of the state received widespread damage caused by high winds and heavy rainfall.
Georgia Power says Fulton County currently has the most outages with 105,390.
By early Tuesday, Georgia Power has nearly 800,000 outages and EMC has around 466,000 customers without power.
The Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority has resumed service Tuesday, but limited routes. The transportation company will have rail service running in 20-minute intervals.
Tropical Storm Irma no longer exists but she left plenty of problems in South Carolina.
More than 220,000 customers were without electricity early Tuesday. Duke Energy reported the biggest problems with 100,000 customers without service. The biggest problems were in Anderson and Greenville counties.
The South Carolina Electric Cooperatives report that about 63,000 customers are without service. The biggest problems are in Oconee and Charleston counties.
South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. had 58,000 customers without service early Tuesday. The major problems were in Charleston and Beaufort counties.
Many schools in South Carolina are closed or opening on a delayed schedule Tuesday.
At least one person died. Fifty-seven-year-old Charles Saxon was killed Monday afternoon by a tree limb while clearing debris outside his home in Calhoun Falls.
The 600 monkeys, birds and other animals at Miami’s Jungle Island made it through Hurricane Irma just fine. But the park sustained a lot of tree damage.
The park’s managing director Christopher Gould tells the Miami Herald the tree damage was worse than in Hurricane Andrew. “We have weeks of work ahead of us to overcome this type of damage,” he said.
Gould said he’s not sure when the park will reopen. He says workers are still estimating the damage.
After Hurricane Andrew, the park — which was then called Parrot Jungle — suffered nearly $5 million in damage and was closed for three weeks.
The animals rode out the storm secured in hurricane-proof enclosures. Gould says there were specialists on hand to help the animals deal with the stress. All of the animals were back in their habitats by Monday.
French President Emmanuel Macron has arrived in Guadeloupe, the first step of his visit to French Caribbean islands hammered by Hurricane Irma.
Macron is meeting in Pointe-a-Pitre airport with rescuers and local authorities officials to discuss the support and aid they can bring to nearby St. Martin and St. Barts islands, the hardest-hit by the storm.
He’ll then be heading to St. Martin to meet with residents, and then to St. Barts.
Macron’s plane is bringing water, food and tons of medicines and emergency equipment. The president is also being accompanied by doctors and experts who will be in charge of evaluating the damage.
The airport for Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has re-opened Tuesday morning after closing as Hurricane Irma pounded the state.
Operations at the airport resumed at 4 a.m. EDT, but a check of the airport’s website Tuesday morning showed many flights still canceled.
Meanwhile, the Miami International Airport said in a tweet that it will resume operations on a limited basis Tuesday. But the airport said passengers should contact their airlines to check on flight status before coming.
Six deaths in Florida have been blamed on Irma, which first hit the state Sunday as a powerful Category 4 hurricane.
Florida residents have begun to dig out in hurricane-scarred Florida and officials are slowly piecing together the scope of Irma’s vicious path of destruction across the peninsula.
The fate of the Florida Keys, where Irma rumbled through with Category 4 muscle, remains largely a question mark. Communication and access were cut and authorities dangled only vague assessments of ruinous impact.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott called the storm “devastating” after emerging from a Monday fly-over of the Keys.
A Navy aircraft carrier was due to anchor off Key West to help in search-and-rescue efforts.
The governor described overturned mobile homes, washed-ashore boats and rampant flood damage.
Six deaths in Florida have been blamed on Irma, along with three in Georgia and one in South Carolina. At least 35 people were killed in the Caribbean.
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