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Wilma Leaves 6 Million Without Power

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After Hurricane Wilma slammed Florida on Monday, the state’s storm-weary residents began picking up the pieces and assessing the damage.

An estimated 6 million people were without power, from Daytona Beach to Key West, eight hours to the south. Florida Power & Light, the state’s largest utility company, said restoring service to all its customers could take weeks, the Associated Press reports.

The storm made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane just south of Marco Island on the southwestern tip of the state and moved east. Power to all the Florida Keys was cut off and U.S. 1, the only roadway to the mainland, was flooded.

“A bunch of us that are the old-time Key Westers are kind of waking up this morning, going, ‘Well, maybe I should have paid a little more attention'” to the storm warnings, said Amy Culver-Aversa, a restaurant owner. Up to 90 percent of Key West residents ignored the fourth mandatory evacuation order this year, AP reports.

Wilma moved across the state in seven hours, shattering the windows of high-rises and tearing off roof tiles in addition to the power outages.

Eight inches of rain fell in Miami-Dade County, and elsewhere the downpour ranged from 3 to 6 inches. Although Wilma lost strength as it moved across the state, it was still powerful enough to knock out windows and send unsecured objects flying through the air.

Adjusters estimate the state’s insured damage to be anywhere from $2 billion to $9 billion, and officials said it was the most damaging storm to hit the Fort Lauderdale area since 1950, AP reports.

Wilma, which first battered Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula for the better part of a week, is responsible for 25 deaths in all. It is the 21st storm of the 2005 season, and the eighth hurricane to punish Florida in 15 months. The hurricane season ends Nov. 30.