Irma's remnants forced Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world's busiest passenger airport, to cancel almost 200 flights early Tuesday.
Even so, the storm continues to assert its presence, with 2 to 5 inches of rain - and as much as 8 inches in isolated pockets - expected through Wednesday across SC and northern Georgia, Alabama and MS into Tennessee and North Carolina. The airport remained operational, with flights taking off and landing. The order allows local authorities to determine when residents may return home. He cautioned that recovery could take longer because the storm affected the entire state.
Irma hit the United States soon after Hurricane Harvey, which pounded Houston late last month, killing about 60 and causing some US$180 billion in damage, largely through flooding. "I have nothing", said Mercedes Lopez, 50, whose family fled north from the Florida Keys town of Marathon last Friday and rode out the storm at an Orlando hotel, only to learn their home was destroyed, along with the gasoline station where he worked. More than 894,000 Georgia Power and Electric Membership Corp. customers were in the dark Tuesday afternoon. The utility companies said they would continue to assess damage as power is restored.
Utilities in other parts of the country are sending legions of workers to Florida in an aggressive effort to rebuild and restore service.
"Floridians live for the day", said Florida historian Gary Mormino of St. Petersburg. Flash-flood watches and warnings were issued around the Southeast. Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority resumed full service Tuesday.
As crews laboured to fix the lone highway connecting the Keys, residents of some of the islands closest to Florida's mainland returned to get their first look at the devastation two days after Irma roared in with 130 miles per hour (209 kph) winds. Traffic flowed easily on normally jammed Atlanta highways.
Water level rising rapidly in Naples, Marco Island, Florida
Now, evacuated Floridians are sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic to head home and face monumental cleanups throughout the state. Key West is a popular tourist destination, drawing revelers to the Duval Street bars where pianos duel and frozen drinks flow.
CNBC reports further word from Long, who said, "Basically every house in the Keys was impacted".
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said 356 people were rescued from the floodwaters on Monday. Martin Eason said in an interview with the AP that the victim was his mother, Nancy.
The worst damage was reported along the coast, where homes along the beaches, marshes and rivers flooded from storm surge amplified by unusually high lunar tides. City officials urged residents to stay off the streets. The dead in SC included a man struck by a tree limb while clearing storm debris and a man who died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator inside his mobile home.
"I just started crying", she said. The Florida deaths include those killed by carbon monoxide. Reverse storm surge is the opposite of it. After the water receded, Timmer began surveying the damage. "People need to understand this is going to take perhaps weeks, not days, in some areas", he said.
Power outages in Florida affected nearly 5 million homes, organizations and businesses, among them gas stations, which need the electricity to keep pumps working.
Irma spun along at tropical storm or hurricane status for about 13 days, and Jose could surpass Irma's longevity if it's still around on Monday.