Hurricane Irma has now made landfall in the Keys. The hurricane’s sustained winds are barreling in at 130mph. The rains are coming down, and the storm surge is moving in. There have been reports of tornadoes, too. All of this is prelude for what is coming as the storm passes, and Irma has already taken lives.
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The Daily Mail is reporting that four Americans have died as a result of the storm.
“A man was killed after tropical-storm-strength winds caused him to lose control of the truck he was driving through Monroe County, which contains Key West. He had been carrying a generator,” the mail writes. The Keys had been under a mandatory evacuation order, and all of those who stayed behind were warned that they were on their own.
On the mainland, two others died in a car accident near Sarasota, Florida. There’s no word yet on the cause of the accident, or if others were involved.
The fourth death is being attributed to natural causes. An “elderly man” died in a school that is acting as a shelter on Marathon Key.
“He was staying in one of the classrooms,” Larry Kahn, an editor for FlKeysNews.com, said. “Police came up, along with a couple of nurses who are here, actually, got everyone out of the room and sealed it off.”
The death toll from the islands south of Florida remains surprisingly low, considering the destruction. There are 25 known fatalities. That number will likely increase as clean-up efforts reach areas that are currently inaccessible.
On the mainland, many coastal areas will experience a storm surge of 10-15 feet. This is what’s causing the flooding. After those surges recede, the flooding from the rain may begin. The storm is coming in as a category 4. Reports of gusts up to 144 are common, and those winds are higher at higher levels, something the residents in high-rise condos along the coast are familiar with.
The images paired with this article are from the relative calm on the front side of the storm. The areas that are hardest hit are still in the dark, and we’ll know more about them as rescue workers make their way into the Keys.