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Power Being Restored in Florida After Hurricane Irma

  • VOA News

A worker trims branches from trees near power lines in a downtown neighborhood in hopes of averting power outages in Orlando, Fla. during preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Irma, Friday, Sept. 8, 2017.

The lights are beginning to come back on in Florida after Hurricane Irma rolled through the state last week, and by Friday, more than 80 percent of Floridians had their power restored.

While most of Florida has seen its power come back on, state authorities said about 1.92 million homes and businesses still lack electricity.

Areas where customers are still without power are dotted across southwest and south Florida, and officials said those people likely wouldn’t have their power restored until late next week.

President Donald Trump on Thursday handed out sandwiches and water to hurricane victims and emergency workers, who he says are doing an "incredible job" helping Florida recover from this week's powerful Hurricane Irma.

Trump visited Naples and Fort Myers Thursday - two hard-hit cities that were right in the path of Irma as it moved up Florida's Gulf Coast.

"We are there for you 100 percent," Trump said as he shook hands while standing next to first lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, left, participate in a briefing on the Hurricane Irma relief efforts, Sept. 14, 2017, in Ft. Myers, Fla., after arriving at Southwest Florida International airport.
President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, left, participate in a briefing on the Hurricane Irma relief efforts, Sept. 14, 2017, in Ft. Myers, Fla., after arriving at Southwest Florida International airport.

Praise for 1st responders

Trump had nothing but praise for state and federal officials and first responders. He credits their early warnings and quick post-storm response for keeping the statewide death toll relatively low.

"When you think of the incredible power of that storm, and while people unfortunately passed, it was such a small number," Trump said. "People thought thousands and thousands of people may have their lives ended."

There are at least 25 storm-related deaths in Florida, while about 50 deaths are reported in the Caribbean, where Irma tore up a number of islands as a Category 5 storm last week.

Trump said he plans to visit the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico sometime in the next two weeks. The president has also visited Texas twice since Hurricane Harvey clobbered the southeastern coast and Houston last month.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Thursday the death toll in there is now up to 82.


Florida Keys

Recovery efforts are slow but steady in Florida. The Florida Keys were the hardest-hit region of the state.

Ninety percent of the homes on the islands were destroyed or damaged. The U.S. Coast Guard is clearing roads and searching for more storm victims. Officials said it would be some time before many people are allowed back in to see what is left of their properties.

Meanwhile, in a very active hurricane season, Hurricane Max is threatening parts of southern Pacific coast of Mexico.

A Category 1 storm with top winds of 130 kilometers per hour, Max made landfall on the Pacific Coast, about 90 kilometers southeast of Acapulco, Mexico, early Thursday evening. Forecasters, however, expect it to quickly weaken as it moves over land.

Tropical Storm Jose also is threatening to regain strength Friday and potentially could cause strong rip currents along the U.S. East Coast as it continues to make its way north in the Atlantic.

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