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Irma death toll continues to rise, 90 percent of homes damaged in Florida Keys

The death toll from Hurricane Irma continued to climb today after officials in Monroe County, Florida, which includes the Florida Keys,...

The death toll from Hurricane Irma continued to climb today after officials in Monroe County, Florida, which includes the Florida Keys, said there were storm-related deaths there.

Monroe County Emergency Management said eight people died in the county during Irma; however, it was unclear how many of the deaths were storm-related.

The Monroe County officials added that 40 people were injured there during the storm.

Not including the new deaths reported in Monroe County, at least 23 others died in the United States from the storm: 16 in Florida, four in South Carolina and three in Georgia. Causes of deaths included car crashes and carbon monoxide poisoning from improper use of a generator.

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the storm, residents of the Keys are returning home to a much different landscape from the one they left last week.

As many as 25 percent of homes in the Keys were destroyed, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long said Tuesday evening, and as many as 65 percent of homes suffered major damage.

According to FEMA, 90 percent of homes in the Florida Keys suffered some damage.

Officials from Monroe County were quick to counter FEMA estimates on Tuesday night, saying no official estimates of damage percentages or costs have been made.

"Things look real damaged from the air, but when you clear the trees and all the debris, it's not much damage to the houses," Monroe County Commissioner Heather Carruthers said in a statement released by the county Tuesday night.

Search and rescue teams are still going door to door in the hardest hit areas of the Keys, including Big Pine Key and Cudjoe Key, where Irma came ashore.

Keys residents are now returning to their homes, with the Florida Department of Transportation saying all 42 bridges along U.S. 1 — the only road into and out of the Keys — have been inspected and cleared.

Amenities are another story, however. Monroe County officials said gas is "limited" and AT&T was working to restore cellphone service.

The Lower Keys are still completely without power. The Florida Keys Electric Cooperative, which provides service to the Upper Keys, says about 30 percent of its customers have electricity.

Some areas, mostly in the Upper Keys, have water, and food and water distribution stations have been set up in Key West. Anyone who has water is being asked to boil it before drinking it or cooking with it.

"It's only been 48 hours after the storm hit, and it's absolutely remarkable what has been accomplished," Florida state Sen. Anitere Flores said on a conference call on Tuesday.

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