Florida to charge road tolls again, starting Thursday

- Toll collections will resume at 12:01 a.m. Thursday on most state toll roads after being lifted Sept. 5 in advance of Hurricane Irma's trek across Florida.

Tolls will remain suspended on the Homestead Extension of Florida's Turnpike south of State Road 874 in southern Miami-Dade County, as Monroe County recovery efforts continue.

State officials did not provide an estimate Tuesday of how much the suspension of tolls has cost the state. Irma made landfall Sept. 10 in Monroe and Collier counties and then traveled up the peninsula.

An estimated 6.3 million people in Florida were directed through mandatory or voluntary evacuations to find shelter inland or further away as Irma approached. Tolls were lifted to try to help keep traffic flowing.

Among other post-Irma developments Tuesday:

--- About 175,000 homes and businesses remained without power, less than 2 percent of utility customers in the state. At its peak, the storm disconnected 6.7 million homes and businesses.

Counties with the highest percentages of power outages remained Highlands, 29 percent; Monroe, 24 percent; and Collier, 20 percent. Hendry was at 19 percent, and no other counties were in double digits.

--- The number of storm-related insurance claims went from 335,000 on Monday to 372,281 on Tuesday, with the estimated insured losses now at $2.17 billion, according to the Office of Insurance Regulation.

By comparison, Hurricane Matthew, which skirted the state's East Coast last year, resulted in 119,000 claims and $1.2 billion in losses.

--- The Florida Department of Transportation and Florida Highway Patrol were again watching river levels in Northeast Florida, where the St. Johns River flooded areas shortly after the storm swept through the state.

--- There were still 2,800 people in 37 shelters in the state.

--- Generator power was still being used in 82 assisted living facilities and 17 nursing homes, while 127 assisted-living facilities and seven nursing homes had been closed, and 186 assisted-living facilities and 38 nursing homes had reported post-storm evacuations.

--- The Department of Health brought in additional resources to Everglades City in Collier County, including 1,000 mud boots and portable showers.

--- 101 state parks had reopened for day-use only. Another 66 parks were still closed.

--- House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, announced creation of a 21-member House select committee to look at better ways of preparing Florida for storms like Irma. The committee, chaired by Miami Republican Jeanette Nunez, is scheduled to hold its first meeting Oct. 12.

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