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Wilma kills 6 in Florida; 6 million without power
Updated: 2005-10-25 09:10

Hurricane Wilma knifed through Florida with winds up to 125 mph Monday, shattering windows in skyscrapers, peeling away roofs and knocking out power to 6 million people, with still a month left to go in the busiest Atlantic storm season on record.

At least six deaths were blamed on the hurricane in Florida, bringing the toll from the storm's march through the tropics to 25.

After a slow, weeklong journey that saw it pound Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula for two days, Wilma made a mercifully swift seven-hour dash across lower Florida, from its southwestern corner to heavily populated Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach on the Atlantic coast.

"We have been huddled in the living room trying to stay away from the windows. It got pretty violent there for a while," said 25-year-old Eddie Kenny, who was at his parents' home in Plantation near Fort Lauderdale. "We have trees down all over the place and two fences have been totally demolished, crushed, gone."

A destroyed house boat is shown in the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma, Monday, Oct. 24, 2005 in North Bay Village, Fla.
A destroyed house boat is shown in the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma, Monday, Oct. 24, 2005 in North Bay Village, Fla. [AP]
The insurance industry estimated insured losses in Florida at anywhere from $2 billion to $9 billion. Officials said it was the most damaging storm to hit the Fort Lauderdale area since 1950.

The 21st storm of the 2005 season — and the eighth hurricane to hit Florida in 15 months — howled ashore around daybreak just south of Marco Island as a Category 3, cutting electricity to the entire Florida Keys. A tidal surge of up to 9 feet swamped parts of Key West in chest-high water, and U.S. 1, the only highway 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,'" said restaurant owner Amy Culver-Aversa, among the 90 percent of Key West residents who chose to ignore the fourth mandatory evacuation order this year.
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