Hurricane Irma

When Hurricane Irma's high winds ripped through the Virgin Islands, the islands' radio and television stations were among the first casualties. Tanya Marie-Singh, who heads Virgin Islands Public Broadcasting, says her staff shut down their television and radio signals a few hours before the storm hit. It was nearly two and half weeks before they could get WTJX-FM, a public station that carries NPR, back on the air.

Before it got cold this winter, it was warm. Very warm. In fact, new data out Monday shows 2017 was the third warmest year recorded in the lower 48 states.

And it was also a smackdown year for weather disasters: 16 weather events each broke the billion-dollar barrier.

First, the heat. Last year was 2.6 degrees F warmer than the average year during the 20th century.

For the past nine days, Nancy Schneider has circled the date on her calendar, pinned up on the wall in her kitchen. She's tracking how long she and her husband have been without power since Hurricane Irma hit Florida.

Last Monday, two-thirds of the state — more than 6.5 million customers — were without power. Crews have worked aggressively since then to restore as many homes and businesses as possible but, more than a week after the storm came ashore, around 400,000 people are still without power.

Christina Broussard was trapped in her grandmother's living room for three days during Hurricane Harvey. Rain poured through the ceiling in the bathrooms and bedrooms.

Broussard's a student at Houston Community College. Her grandmother is 74 and uses a wheelchair.

"We had peanut butter, tuna, crackers, we had plenty of water," she remembers. "We were hungry, but we managed. We tried to make light jokes about it — we said we were on a fast." And to pass the time? "We prayed."

Hurricane Irma arrived on the doorstep of the Virgin Islands just over a week ago. A Category 5 storm, historic in its terrible might, Irma shredded homes and hotels into the bare materials that made them, its winds scattering floorboards and roofs and light poles like so many matchsticks.

Updated at 6:55 p.m. ET

Eight people have died after a Florida nursing home and long-term-care facility apparently lost air conditioning in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, and police have launched a criminal investigation into the incident.

The cleanup after Hurricane Irma is a massive undertaking, after the destructive storm hit Florida and neighboring states over the weekend. In Miami, a nun chipped in to clear trees in her neighborhood — and no one, it seems, can resist a story about a chainsaw-wielding nun.

Sister Margaret Ann was spotted at work by an off-duty officer of the Miami-Dade Police Department, which posted video and images from the scene in the community of Kendall West Tuesday.

It's hot and dim inside this Comfort Inn just off the interstate in Fort Myers, Fla. The power has been off for two days, ever since the heart of Hurricane Irma passed right over the city.

But Dorothea Brown seems right at ease as she flips through a newspaper in the lobby.

In fact, she says the hotel is her "second home when we have to evacuate." Brown lives at a mobile home and RV park right along the Orange River, so evacuations are a part of life. She and her family and her neighbors have a routine.

"Every time there's a storm, we come here," she says.

Roughly half of Florida's homes and businesses remained without electricity on Tuesday, two days after Hurricane Irma plowed through the state. A lot of the business recovery efforts there will depend on how quickly power can be restored.

On her way to work Tuesday morning, Carol McDaniel, vice president of human resources for the Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, made her way through darkened neighborhoods.

When the worst of Irma's fury had passed, Gene McAvoy hit the road to inspect citrus groves and vegetable fields. McAvoy is a specialist on vegetable farming at the University of Florida's extension office in the town of LaBelle, in the middle of one of the country's biggest concentrations of vegetable and citrus farms.

It took a direct hit from the storm. "The eyewall came right over our main production area," McAvoy says.

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