National Hurricane Center says Irma is impacting all of South Florida

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Hurricane Irma began its assault on Florida early Sunday with the storm's northern eyewall reaching the lower Florida Keys as a powerful Category 4 storm.

Residents have been allowed to return to some islands in the hurricane-hit Florida Keys as officials try to piece together the scope of Irma's destruction and rush aid to the drenched and debris-strewn state.

Damaged sail boats are shown in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in the Florida Keys.

All of southern Florida was feeling the storm's effects on Sunday afternoon, with a woman forced to deliver her own baby and trees and apartment towers swaying dangerously in high winds.

About 800 flights had been canceled at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which remained operational Monday as its staff monitored storm conditions with help from the Federal Aviation Administration, airport spokesman Andrew Gobeil said. "It will be done quickly, it will be done well, and it will be done better", he said. About 110,000 people remained in shelters across Florida. Despite local panic, it spared Barbuda, St. Martin and Anguilla, all of which had been ravaged by Hurricane Irma. Only some areas have access to running water.

The Keys appeared to be the hardest-hit part of Florida, even though the 400-mile-wide storm engulfed almost the entire state. Officials in Key West hope to have their island open by October 20 for Fantasy Fest, an annual costume festival. Insurance companies buy reinsurance at varying levels, so if a firm only participates at a level of 45%, it is not going to be able to pay all of its policyholders in full after a storm of this magnitude, Dr. Hamid said. Their dog Rocky was also riding out the storm.

"I have no idea, but I'm trying to stay positive", Rose said. "And we certainly understand the frustration", he said.

Cleanup efforts were underway on Miami Beach's iconic Ocean Drive, which was covered in sand from the storm surge and wind.

It also spread misery into Georgia and SC as it moved inland with winds at 50 miles per hour, causing flooding and power outages. The storm left dozens more dead as it tore across the Caribbean.

Meteorologists predicted Irma would plow into the Tampa Bay area Monday morning.

In the meantime, the hurricane center continues monitoring Jose's progression and intensity, while Hispaniola, the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands brace for rough surf and rip currents over the next few days. Now around 3 million people live there.

Now, it is home to three million and its retirement homes, canals lined with yachts, and shell-filled beaches were under threat. Irma's initial forecasts kept the storm in the Atlantic. Many businesses had yet to protect windows with plywood or hurricane shutters.

The county said search-and-rescue teams are going door to door today in the hardest hit areas of the Keys and that military personnel are helping with the search. "As usual, the weatherman, I don't know why they're paid". In the Upper Keys, the Florida Keys Electric Cooperative reports that about 70 percent of their customers still don't have power. Charleston police asked residents to avoid downtown in anticipation of high tide.

"You can't survive these storm surges", he said.

Georgia's Gov. Nathan Deal lifted a mandatory evacuation order for six coastal counties.

In hard-hit Naples, on Florida's southwest coast, more than 300 people stood outside a Publix grocery store Tuesday, waiting for it to open. "Again, we've never seen anything like this".

But as all those residents fled, thousands of volunteers and members of the National Guard flooded in.

"There's devastation", he said, adding that virtually every mobile-home park on the island chain was left upended. At least one person died in the Keys.