JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Irma slowly weakened from a hurricane into a tropical storm Monday as it traveled over northern Florida and moved into southern Georgia, displacing thousands of people, leaving millions without electricity and causing record-setting floods.
The storm, which hit the lower Florida Keys on Sunday morning before traveling up the state’s southwestern coast, has left 6.7 million Floridians without power and driven roughly 200,000 people to shelters across the state. Outages could last for weeks, White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert warned Monday.
At least nine people have died in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina as a result of the storm. Officials cautioned residents to remain off the roads and not return to their homes until evacuation orders are lifted.
In the state’s northeastern corner, Jacksonville felt the brunt of Irma’s storm surges as the banks of the city’s rivers and tributaries overflowed, inundating city streets. Storm debris littered the roads, and damaged boats could be seen in some of the city’s waterways.
Elsewhere in the state, many cities remained virtually deserted even as storm conditions subsided. Shelters remained filled with some of the millions told to evacuate their homes ahead of the storms. Stores and restaurants remained shuttered, and no fuel was available at gas stations.
Nearby states also began to feel the wallop of Irma on Monday. Flash floods hit downtown Charleston, South Carolina, while nearly 1 million people in Georgia lost power as the storm thumped the coast.
While damage to Florida’s west coast was less severe than forecasts anticipated, Gov. Rick Scott told residents to brace for a lengthy recovery.
“For the entire state, but especially for the Keys, it’s going to be a long road,” the Republican governor said.
And in the Caribbean, which Irma devastated late last week, residents began what will likely be a years-long process of recovery and rebuilding after the storm tore across the region, killing at least 38 people and leaving the island of Barbuda “barely habitable.”
The storm, which at its peak was designated a Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 185 mile per hour, is expected to become a tropical depression Tuesday as it moves into eastern Alabama.
David Lohr, Travis Waldron and Sebastian Murdock contributed reporting from Florida. Lydia O’Connor and Hayley Miller also contributed to this report.
Read more updates about Hurricane Irma: Huffingtonpost.com