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Florida power company says restoration 'will take weeks' after Irma

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Storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma on the island of St Maarten

The National Hurricane Center says Category 4 Hurricane Irma is now "headed for the southwest Florida coast" as winds continue to pick up speed to 130 miles per hour win all of South Florida.

The hurricane made a landfall in lower Florida Keys just before 9 am (local time) with wind gusting 130 miles per hour.

About 1 million customers were without power in Florida, and almost 7 million people were under evacuation orders by Saturday night as the storm moved from Cuba into the Florida Straits.

As anxious Florida residents watched weather forecasts this week, it seemed clear Hurricane Irma was on track to strike Miami, Fort Lauderdale and other Atlantic coast cities, prompting a massive evacuation.

"Stay inside. Go up".

The toll extended to many other areas of the state.

At Germain Arena, where thousands sought refuge south of Fort Myers, people sat amid puddles on the concrete floor Monday morning. The winds had toppled some large tree branches and part of a fence, but her house was undamaged. "It just stings every time one of these gusts comes through".

Speaking as he went on an aerial tour of the Keys, Florida Governor Rick Scott said: "Power lines are down throughout the state".

How much damage has the hurricane caused? Together, we will restore, recover and rebuild.

The storm's westward tilt as it advanced on Florida put a string of Gulf Coast cities at greatest risk and spared the densely populated Miami area the full force of its wrath.

On Marco Island, where the storm made its second landfall on Sunday, residents were cleaning up damaged homes and dealing with the downed trees that knocked out power lines and crushed cars. Meantime Sanibel police were restricting traffic across the causeway.

CNN meteorologist Judson Jones said the severity of the storm surge depended on which side of the storm Tampa was on.

"I'm feeling better than being in my house, but I'm anxious about my home, about what's going to happen", Tuttle said. "I didn't think I was going to make it".

The Florida Keys took a direct hit from Irma at one of the storm's most powerful points. A Florida man says that his Facebook event inviting people to shoot at Hurricane Irma was a joke that got out of hand and that he never expected anyone to take his suggestion seriously.

Irma's speed was cut in half and its intensity dramatically declined as it hammered Cuba, but the National Hurricane Center's 8 p.m. advisory warned that the decline is only temporary.

After Hurricane Irma left Florida, this morning more than13 million homes and businesses from Key West to Jacksonville are without power.

More than 200,000 people waited in shelters across Florida.

At least 18 deaths in the US have been blamed on the storm.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said 356 people were rescued from the floodwaters on Monday. Meanwhile, Europe's insurance index was the biggest sectoral gainer, up 2 percent and set for its best day in more than four months.

Florida Power and Light estimates 5.7 million outages as of Monday morning - almost 60 percent of the state.

Miami International Airport, one of the busiest in the country, halted passenger flights through at least Monday.

"Significant river flooding is possible beginning Monday and Tuesday in much of central Georgia and southern SC where average rainfall of 3 to 6 inches and isolated 10 inch amounts are expected", the hurricane center said. French President Emmanuel Macron said the government's priority was to help island residents return to normal life.

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