Jacksonville may have been spared the most ferocious winds of Tropical Storm Irma, but the torrential rains and storm surge have swelled the St. Johns River to historically high levels and inundated low-lying areas of the city.
Tom Bossert, the White House homeland security advisor, called it some of the worst flooding to hit the city in 100 years.
“Get out NOW,” the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office warned people in evacuation zones. It advised those who needed help escaping flooded homes to visibly display something white – a shirt or a pillowcase.
French President Emmanuel Macron will visit the Caribbean on Tuesday in an effort to persuade locals on the Hurricane Irma-devastated islands of St. Martin and St. Barts that Paris has not abandoned them.
Macron, whose popularity has plummeted at home, is taking flak from political opponents and islanders on the French territories for what they consider to have been inadequate hurricane preparations and a slow response to the mass destruction of homes and infrastructure.
He was traveling to St. Martin, a Franco-Dutch island, on an overnight flight aboard an Airbus carrying aid and emergency supplies. During his whistle-stop visit, he is also expected to travel to St. Barts, a French territory 20 miles to the southeast.
There is no gas at the RaceTrac gas station along Route 1 here, and the mini-market is shut down. The site is like a lot of other anonymous roadway establishments, featuring some palm trees, shrubbery and patches of grass across the road from a flooded thicket.
But the unremarkable petrol stop has become a terminus for stranded residents seeking to go back to their homes in the Florida Keys, as well as for dozens of journalists keen to survey the damage there in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
Florida authorities on Monday were stopping all southbound traffic here, a 20-minute drive or so from Key Largo. There is no other roadway south.
The morning after Hurricane Irma rumbled through central Florida with howling winds and torrential rain, the region was working to clean up damage that mostly amounted to downed trees and power lines and some flooding.
There was hardly a neighborhood in this vast tourist corridor that did not have upended trees and no power. More than half a million people were without power.
Winds blowing at 30 to 40 mph were hampering the cleanup effort, although in many neighborhoods people were out with rakes and power saws.
Some of the Floridians hardest hit by Irma live in a modest residential neighborhood near the river in Bonita Springs, where waist-deep polluted water flows through their houses.
But that isn't keeping some of them from staying put. As a members of a rescue team cruise the flooded streets in a motorized raft, they say they are finding residents trapped in their homes who have no interest in leaving. The residents were determined to see the hurricane through in their homes, and now they are determined to stay in them until they are fully habitable again.
Some found their way onto plastic boats. Others pushed away debris such as nearly fully submerged garbage cans bobbing along the streets.