ORLANDO, Fla. – Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said Monday morning that the damage from Hurricane Irma was worse than officials initially anticipated and surpassed the damage caused by Hurricane Charley in 2004.
First responders and other emergency officials will be assessing damage across the county, although impassable roads are making that effort difficult.
A curfew remains in effect until 6 p.m. Monday, although Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said the curfew could be lifted sooner if the roadways are deemed safe.
The Florida Highway Patrol tweeted a picture of damage along I-4 West at State Road 434 asking residents to stay off the road.
I-4 WB at SR434. Stay off the roads!! pic.twitter.com/K9zO94vtHA— FHP Orlando (@FHPOrlando) September 11, 2017
As of 8 a.m., about 300,000 homes were without power and there was no real timeline of when it would be restored.
Severe flooding was reported in the Orlo Vista neighborhood near Kirkman Road around 2 a.m. Monday. Orange County Fire Rescue and the National Guard rescued 125 residents from 138 homes that were flooded. No one was injured.
Jacobs asked residents to refrain from using water for the next day or so while officials work to restore power. Homeowners should also wait until heavy winds pass before attempting to remove any debris.
"We lose more people after the storm before we get our areas cleaned up than we lose during the storm," Jacobs said.
The first person to die in Orange County as a result of Hurricane Irma was killed in an Orange County crash Sunday evening, officials said.
Troopers said the crash took place just before 7 p.m., when a countywide curfew was set to go into effect, on southbound State Road 417 when a woman driving a 2006 Cadillac SUV hit a guardrail near mile marker 5.
The driver, later identified as 50-year-old Heidi Zehner, of Orlando, was pronounced dead at the scene, the Highway Patrol said. No other people were injured.
During a press conference around 9 p.m., Jacobs said she was heartbroken over the fatal crash.
"Please stay indoors. Stay in the safest place of your home until we get through this storm," Jacobs said.
Orange County Fire Chief Otto Drozd said officials have suspended normal operations as winds have increased to 50 mph in the area.
Two Orange County first responders are also being treated for neck and back injuries after they were responding to a separate incident Sunday night. The county ambulance hit a puddle and hydro-planned on State Road 408, hitting a guardrail, the chief said.
"The just underscores the seriousness of what we are dealing with," Drozd said. "We're really taxing the system at this point."
Jacobs asked residents to stay home for the sake of Orange County's first responders.
"I'm only asking for about 12 more hours," she said. "So we can keep ours guys and women safe."