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Florida Escapes Worst of Irma, Impact Felt Across State

September 12, 2017

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Coast Guard Flood Punt Teams conduct rescue operations in Jacksonville, Florida, Sept. 11, 2017. Photo: Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard District 7
Coast Guard Flood Punt Teams conduct rescue operations in Jacksonville, Florida, Sept. 11, 2017. Photo: Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard District 7

Hurricane Irma's late shift to the west seems to have spared Florida the worst of the storm, but even with reduced impact, its effects are widespread.

A combination of influences caused Irma to lose strength over the northern coast of Cuba and shift westward. That put it on a path that reduced the impact of high winds and storm surge on major urban centers in the southeast of the state, including Miami.

Recent estimates for total damage costs in the state are at $58 billion. That is far less than earlier numbers, which reached as high as $200 billion, according to Bloomberg. The current estimate is still higher than the total for Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which cost nearly $48 billion when adjusted for inflation, but is below the estimates for Hurricane Harvey, which may run upwards of $75 billion.

Fuel prices were up again in the latest numbers from the Energy Department. The average price of diesel fuel increased 4.4 cents for the week ending on Sept. 11 and stands at $2.80 per gallon. This is a week after jumping more than 15 cents in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Perhaps more telling than the increase in price was a note in the report stating that data on Miami’s gas prices were unavailable due to the insufficient response from retailers.

A Florida Trucking Association representative told HDT that in the immediate aftermath of the storm, most Florida-based trucking companies are "still in damage assessment and power restoration mode and are doing the obvious things they need to do.”

As of Sept. 11, every major interstate and turnpike in the state was reopened. U.S. 1 South, which runs through the Florida Keys, is still being assessed for damage and no residents or visitors are permitted in the Keys until it is complete.

Florida residents are still being asked not to rush back to their homes and businesses as power, fuel, and other infrastructures are not restored in some places and congestion from returning Floridians is likely.

“Don't think just because this thing passed, you can run home,” said Florida Gov. Rick Scott in a briefing. “We've got downed power lines all across the state. We've got roads that are impassible still across the state. We've got debris all over the state."

Millions of residents are still without power a day after Irma moved through Florida. At the the worst of it, the hurricane left more than half of the state’s residents without power, according to a Washington Post report. But crews are working to repair damaged power lines and the number of people with power, especially on the east coast, is steadily increasing.

Ports from South Florida to South Carolina are slowly reopening, bringing back goods and fuel supplies to the region. With minimal damage, most are expected to reopen by Sept. 13.

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