Irma cleanup begins across the Carolinas

Irma is finally making its way out of the Carolinas, leaving residents with plenty of cleanup across the region.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- From flooding in the Low Country of South Carolina, to crews working to remove downed trees from power lines and homes, the Carolinas are beginning to clean up after Irma roared through the region Monday and Tuesday. 

After moving north through Georgia overnight, the National Hurricane Center downgraded Irma to a post-tropical cyclone at 5 a.m. The storm's maximum sustained winds were just 15 mph as it moved north-northwest toward the Alabama-Georgia border Tuesday morning. The worst of the storm reached the area late Monday, with Charlotte seeing wind gusts up to 45 mph. Grandfather Mountain saw the strongest gusts at 62 mph Monday. 

At least 18 school districts in the Charlotte area operated on a two-hour delay Tuesday morning due to widespread power outages caused by Irma. In Cleveland County, three schools were forced to be closed all day after crews were unable to restore power in time for classes. 

At one point during the storm, South Carolina officials said nearly 200,000 homes were without power. By 11 a.m., Duke Energy was still reporting over 99,000 outages in the Palmetto State, with most outages in the Upstate area in Greenville and Pickens counties. 

In North Carolina, Duke reported over 8,200 outages in Mecklenburg County and over 57,000 total in the state, mostly in western counties and in the Piedmont. 

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In Georgia, Irma was blamed for three deaths. According to USA TODAY, 35 people were killed in the Caribbean by the dangerous storm. Meteorologist John Wendel said that despite the downgrade in intensity, the remnants of Irma continue to grow in size, with the system now covering over 750 miles from the Atlantic coast all the way to the Mississippi River. 

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In South Carolina, coastal areas saw significant storm surge when Irma roared in Monday. Both Isle of Palms and Folly Beach received eight feet more of storm surge than what Matthew brought in 2016, flooding several roads. Charleston Harbor experienced the third-highest storm surge in history at 10 feet Monday. 

"Normally, you never see waves coming over, and when you do, it's in isolated areas, not the entire battery wall," said one person. 

Irma's fury concerned a number of residents, who are quickly reminded of Hugo's devastation in 1989. 

"Everything is measured in terms of when Hugo happened and what happened then," said one resident. 

Stick with WCNC.com throughout the week for updates on Hurricane Irma and the latest forecast.

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