Irma now a tropical storm, but still lashing Florida and Georgia

(CNN) Irma was downgraded from a hurricane to tropical storm Monday, but that did nothing to quell the threat of more destruction in the coming hours.

The storm was still hurling 70 mph winds Monday morning, pummeling cities in northeast Florida that had not expected to feel its full wrath.

Emergency workers in Daytona Beach rescued 25 people with a high-water truck after they were suddenly caught in an onslaught of wind and rain.
"It wasn't supposed to be like this," CNN correspondent Sara Sidner said from Daytona Beach. "It's been strong enough to knock us over."

Another 125 emergency rescues were made in less than an hour Monday in Orange County, home to Orlando -- an inland city where many coastal residents had evacuated to before the hurricane.

Jacksonville -- the largest city geographically in the country -- is grappling with a record storm surge and will get slammed with severe flash flooding before Irma continues her destructive northward march to Georgia and beyond.

Extent of devastation still not clear

Irma made landfall on the Florida Keys as a Category 4 hurricane Sunday, but officials still have no idea how bad the damage there is.

That's because many of the islands are now inaccessible.

"There's no electricity throughout the Keys. No cell service in at least the lower and middle Keys," said Bill South of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"US 1, the only road that comes in and out of the Florida Keys, there's three choke points -- there are three places that are completely inaccessible."

Authorities plan to fly over the Keys on Monday, officials said.


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