Weakened Irma leaves 3 dead in Georgia, 1 in South Carolina

ASSOCIATED PRESS
ATLANTA
Published 13.09.2017 00:40

Irma weakened to a still-deadly tropical storm as it swirled beyond Florida, killing at least three people in Georgia, flooding the coast, sending trees crashing onto homes and forcing the world's busiest airport in Atlanta to cancel hundreds of flights.

The former hurricane remained an immense, 415-mile (668-kilometer) wide storm as its center moved on from Florida Monday afternoon, giving its still-formidable gusts and drenching rains a far reach.

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 (400 kilometers) away. City officials urged residents to stay off the streets.

In Atlanta, people nervously watched towering oak trees as the city, 250 miles inland, experienced its first tropical storm warning.

The body of a 62-year-old man who climbed a ladder behind his home was found under debris on the roof of his shed in southwest Georgia, where winds topped 40 mph (65 kph), Worth County sheriff's spokeswoman Kannetha Clem said.

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.

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

Downtown Atlanta hotels remained full of evacuees. Many milled about the CNN Center, escaping crowded hotel rooms in search of open restaurants. Many were glued to storm coverage on the atrium's big screen. Parents pointed out familiar sites, now damaged, to their children.

Irma weakened into a tropical depression late Monday, and the National Hurricane Center discontinued all storm surge and tropical weather watches and warnings related to the storm. Meteorologist Keith Stellman said Atlanta's airport recorded sustained winds of 45 mph (72 kph) with gusts up to 64 mph (103 kph). The hurricane center forecast Irma to drop 5 inches to 8 inches (13 to 20 centimeters) or rain across South Carolina and the northern regions of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi over the next two days.

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