Irma Claims 12 Lives In Florida; 6 Others Killed In Georgia, South Carolina

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MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — State officials have raised the death toll in Florida from Hurricane Irma to 12 from the previous seven, raising the total to 55.

McKinley Lewis, a spokesman for Florida Gov. Rick Scott, said six people died in car crashes, four while engaged in storm preparations. One was electrocuted by a downed power line and another had a cardiac issue.

Another 37 deaths were reported in the Caribbean, four in South Carolina, and two deaths in Georgia.

Sumter County Coroner Robert Baker Jr. says 54-year-old William McBride was pronounced dead Tuesday of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Baker says McBride had been running a generator inside his mobile home for at least several hours, with only a single window cracked for ventilation. McBride’s sons found him Tuesday morning and called authorities.

Charles Saxon, 57, became South Carolina’s first recorded death when he was struck by a tree limb while clearing debris outside his home in Calhoun Falls amid wind gusts of about 40 mph, according to a statement from Abbeville County Coroner Ronnie Ashley.

Another man was killed in a wreck on a wet and windy interstate as Irma moved past. Public Safety Director Leroy Smith said 21-year-old Zhen Tain died in the crash on Interstate 77 just east of Columbia.

In Georgia, a man in his 50s was killed just outside Atlanta when a tree fell on his house, Sandy Springs police Sgt. Sam Worsham said.

A woman died when a tree fell on a vehicle in a private driveway, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office said on its website.

Georgia’s Gov. Nathan Deal lifted a mandatory evacuation order for six coastal counties. The order allows local authorities to determine when residents may return home.

Deal called the storm “unusual” in that it affected the entire state, rather than being localized.
For that reason, Deal said, recovery “could be a bit slower.”

“This is a different kind of natural disaster. We have not had one like this in the state of Georgia for a long time,” Deal said in a news conference on Tuesday.

Some 540,000 people were ordered to evacuate days earlier from Savannah and the rest of Georgia’s coast. Irma sent 4 feet of ocean water into downtown Charleston, South Carolina, as the storm’s center passed 250 miles away. City officials urged residents to stay off the streets.

Communities along Georgia’s coast were swamped by storm surge and rainfall arriving at high tide Monday afternoon. On Tybee Island east of Savannah, Holland Zellers was grabbing a kayak to reach his mother in a home near the beach.

“In the street right now, the water is knee-to-waist deep,” Zeller said.

Tybee Island City Manager Shawn Gillen said waters were receding quickly, but many of the 3,000 residents’ homes were flooded.

“I don’t think people who have lived here a long time have ever seen flooding this bad,” Gillen said.
The tidal surge sent damaged boats rushing more than three blocks onto downtown streets in St. Marys, just north of the Georgia-Florida state line, St. Marys Police Lt. Shannon Brock said.

In Alabama, hotels remained full of evacuees, most coming from Florida. A convoy of 180 FEMA trucks carrying relief supplies began making its way to Florida.

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