Worst of Irma now underway for Middle Georgia, EMA officials say


At least five people died of storm-related injuries in Florida as the massive hurricane barreled across the Sunshine State.

As Tropical Storm Irma's flooding rainfall and storm surge inundated parts of Florida's First Coast Monday morning, Jacksonville authorities had a simple and clear message for those near flooded waterways: get out. "I'm standing there the only guy without boards trying to make a decision on whether to stay or to go", resident Craig Fulton said.

Some 6.3 million people in the state were told to evacuate before Irma arrived. Around 3.5 million people have been left without power in the storm, declared a major disaster by President Trump.

The leading edge of the enormous storm bent palm trees and spit rain across South Florida, knocking out power to more than 430,000 homes and businesses, as the eye approached Key West.

"We're grateful that the brunt of the storm will miss us", Cooper said in a press conference Monday, "but our entire state will see some impacts from Irma and especially Western North Carolina". In the Keys, though, he said "there is devastation".

Hurricane Irma has been downgraded from a category three hurricane to category one on Monday but remains a force to be reckoned with after blasting up the west coast of Florida. "Additional slow weakening is forecast, and Irma is expected to weaken to a tropical depression by Tuesday afternoon".

Monroe County planned to reopen road access at 7 a.m. for residents and business owners from Key Largo, the main island at the upper end of the chain, as well as the towns of Tavernier and Islamorada farther south, fire officials said.

The Keys are linked by 42 bridges that have to be checked for safety before motorists can be allowed in, officials said. "We want everyone to concentrate on recovering from Irma", Kelly said.

An aircraft carrier was also due to anchor off Key West to aid in search-and-rescue efforts.

The figure represents nearly 60% of the state's electricity users, who were still experiencing power outage as of 9 p.m. EDT Monday, according to the state's Division of Emergency Management. If you have damage, take pictures and submit a damage assessment report by clicking here. The storm headed north on Monday towards Gainesville and Tallahassee, taking risky wind gusts with it, ABC News reported.

Hurricane Irma made landfall in southwestern Florida on Sunday.