Florida Death Toll from Hurricane Irma Rises to 12

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With the arrival of what is one of the most devastating storms to ever hit Florida, officials have set aside almost 1 million gallons of water, filled 67 trailers with meals, and amassed 24,000 tarps.

The acting secretary of the federal Department of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, said almost 22,000 government workers are assisting in the recovery effort, with more on the way.

By Monday, Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm as it made its way up Florida toward Georgia, allowing state officials and residents to get a first glimpse of its destructive path even as the nation continues to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

The NHC earlier tweeted that people in the area of Naples and Marco Island should move away from the coast as storm surges of up to 15ft (4.5m) were possible. Almost 7 million people in the Southeast were warned to get out of the storm's path, including 6.4 million in Florida alone.

The massive storm, which had menaced Florida for days and triggered evacuation orders covering 5.6 million people, made two official landfalls on Sunday, reports The Washington Post.

President Donald Trump has released emergency federal aid for Florida, describing the hurricane as a "big monster".

Hurricane Irma has weakened to a tropical storm after causing widespread damage on Caribbean islands and the USA state of Florida.

DOMONOSKE: Yeah. For a long time it didn't - it didn't look like it was coming in this direction. "It's awful, what we saw", he said following an aerial tour of the region on Monday. As of last night, 13 million Floridians had lost electrical power - a stunning 62% of the state's population. "Once this system passes through it's going to be a race to save lives and sustain lives". Indian-Americans who own hotels have opened up their unreserved rooms and in many cases their banquet halls have been converted into makeshift dormitories for those who left their homes in Florida to escape from the wrath of the hurricane. An estimated 220,000 people were staying in shelters. And the governor said effects on the southwest coast, including in Naples and Fort Myers, was not as bad as feared.

Governments in Britain, France and the Netherlands, which oversee Caribbean territories hit by Irma, have come under criticism for an ill-prepared and slow response to the historic storm.

In a parting blow to the state, the storm caused record flooding in the Jacksonville area. Utility crews were already on the streets there clearing downed trees and utility lines. They are expected to spend at least two weeks assisting with efforts.

"Their cell phone died, so I haven't heard anything since right after the eye went through", she said. "Search and rescue teams are ready to deploy".

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