Irma’s damage less than expected, but southwest Ohio aids in relief

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Irma’s damage less than expected, but southwest Ohio aids in relief

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NAPLES, FL - SEPTEMBER 11: A road with heavy debris stands on the outskirts of a rural part of Naples the day after Hurricane Irma swept through the area on September 11, 2017 in Naples, Florida. Hurricane Irma made another landfall near Naples yesterday after inundating the Florida Keys. Electricity was out in much of the region with extensive flooding. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

After a gripping week of uncertainty, Floridians with ties to the area expressed relief that the Hurricane Irma — billed as what could be one of the nation’s most devastating ever — did not damage their property.

“I’m very pleasantly surprised that everything seems to be good,” said Kelsey Burr, a former Centerville resident living in Ft. Myers, which took a direct hit from the storm.

Burr evacuated to Orlando, but said she now understands why some people don’t skip town.

“When you’re down here, it’s a completely different experience, even though you know you should, it’s a lot harder to leave your friends, your apartment, your belongings behind,” she said.

Outside the storm’s direct path, in Palm Beach on Florida’s Atlantic coast, the sigh of relief was also felt.

“It’s really not as bad as we expected,” said Olivia Hitchock, a reporter with the Palm Beach Post, a Cox Media Group newspaper. Hitchock’s family hails from Fairborn. “We haven’t seen much damage to houses at all.”

DP&L, Butler Co. mobilized

Dayton Power & Light has more than a dozen workers in areas hit by Irma.

“When those emergencies arise, we come to the table,” said Mary Ann Kabel, a DP&L spokeswoman. “We’re all concerned … about the safety of our crews, and also customers down there.”

The crews left the Miami Valley last week and were on standby Sunday night. On Monday, DP&L crews had to wait for winds to subside and for Florida-based crews to clear a path for assisting power crews.

The company said it is still staffed to respond to issues in the Miami Valley.

More than 6.7 million customers were without power in Florida on Sunday night. The largest number of customers without power, more than 3.6 million, were with Florida Power and Light. Duke Energy reported more than 1.2 million customers without power and Tampa Electric reported about 328,000 customers in the dark.

Sixteen members of Butler County’s Incident Management Team, comprised of local fire and police departments, deployed last week to Florida to help with Irma recovery.

Base delivering supplies

A Wright-Patterson based Air Force Reserve C-17 Globemaster III was set to haul food, water and cots and other supplies to Florida on Monday.

The Wright-Patt crew was set to stop at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind., to pick up additional cargo before heading to Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., said Lt. Col. Cynthia Harris, a 445th Airlift Wing spokeswoman.

Late Friday, a C-17 flew a New York Task Force 1 rescue team to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Irma unleashed a swath of destruction on the Caribbean island.

The Air Force Reserve 445th Airlift Wing picked up 75 members of the task force, four rescue dogs and 60,000 pounds of equipment at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., and flew the first responders and their cargo to San Juan, P.R., Harris said.

Last Thursday, a C-17 from Wright-Patterson hauled a HH-60 search and rescue helicopter from Florida to Georgia as powerful Hurricane Irma churned toward the state.

OHTF1 may stay put

Ohio Task Force 1 will likely not join the clean-up effort in Florida, staff on the Kettering-based team said.

“I would say based on what we’re hearing, the need for us to respond down there is probably diminished quite a bit,” said Phil Sinewe, a team spokesman.

Sinewe said FEMA is focusing on three main tasks: Rescues, damage assessments and rapid needs assessments.

“The teams carry in essence what is an iPad, and they basically can document everything they see - power lines down, houses damaged, traffic signals down, and all of that is uploaded to like a main computer,” he said.

Flights, cruises impacted

More than 3,800 U.S. flights scheduled for Monday were canceled by late morning — and more than 9,000 since Saturday — according to tracking service FlightAware.

Many airports in Florida remained closed Monday as flight cancellations spread north along Irma’s track.

In Georgia, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport — one of the busiest hubs in the world — was open Monday, but the airport encouraged travelers to check airline’s flight statuses.

Many flights out of the Dayton International Airport and the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport fly to Atlanta as a connection to other flights.

Dayton had several cancellations and delays Monday — departures flying to Charlottle, Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth and St. Petersburg-Clearwater. Arrivals from Charlottle, Atlanta and St. Petersburg-Clearwater were also cancelled.

Cruise lines also took a hit. Port Miami, Port Everglades, Port Canaveral and the Port of Tampa were closed Monday. Assessments of the ports have already begun, and some may reopen soon. Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line were among the impacted lines.

Consumer outlook

The average price of gasoline jumped in the past two weeks after Harvey prompted the closure of refineries.

With oil refineries along the Gulf Coast shut down, gas prices have jumped about 30 cents a gallon nationwide, on average, since Harvey made landfall in late August.

Florida makes up about 5 percent of the U.S. economy. Flooding from Irma could affect about $1.2 billion of the state’s crops, Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimates, and elevate food prices.

Orange juice prices, which surged in early September, gave up some of their recent gains. Futures had risen to $1.54 a pound Friday from $1.30 at the end of August and slipped to $1.51 a pound early Monday.

Stocks jumped early Monday after Irma weakened without causing as much damage as many had feared.

The Associated Press and Cox Media Group reporters Rachel Murray, Sean Cudahy, Kara Driscoll, Denise G. Callahan, Barrie Barber and Michael Lopardi contributed reporting.

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