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Rescue efforts underway to reach Irma flooding victims

Rescues in Irma's wake

TAMPA, Fla. -- Irma weakened into a still-dangerous tropical storm Monday as it pushed inland, triggering record flooding in Florida's northeastern corner, while rescuers in its long, soggy wake struggled to reach victims and learn the full extent of the damage.

CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz was in Orlo Vista, Florida, on Monday as residents were evacuated by rescue teams.

Barefoot children in blankets escaped waist-deep water with their only belongings in plastic bags. One puppy was found caged and alone in a house filling with water, Diaz reports.

Irma causes widespread destruction across Florida

Karland Gillens cheered at the site of first responders at his door. Fire and rescue officials tried to convince his parents to leave, but when they refused, crews marked the house as having three people still inside.

"I left because I know we needed food, we needed lights, it started getting hot in there. I was hoping to convince my mom to leave once I left," Gillens told Diaz.

About 130 residents and their pets were rescued in Orange County in the aftermath of Irma, Diaz reports.

"How are we going to survive from here?" asked Gwen Bush, who waded through thigh-deep floodwaters outside her central Florida home to reach National Guard rescuers and get a ride to a shelter. "What's going to happen now? I just don't know."

U.S. military and National Guard assets from across the country are being deployed to assist in rescue efforts.

The Air Force said more than 950 airmen are assisting in search and rescue efforts, with C-5 and C-17 planes bringing supplies and helicopters to Homestead Air Reserve Base north of the Florida Keys.

The Pennsylvania Air National Guard planned to fly a number of C-130 transport planes carrying rescue equipment to support efforts in Marathon, Florida, on Monday.

"We're ready to go in a moment's notice. For us, we're just ready to get down there and if they need our help, we're ready to help if asked to," Capt. Korey Fratini with the Air Force's 347th Rescue Group in Georgia told CBSN. Fratini's unit assisted in rescue efforts after Hurricane Harvey and are preparing to deploy to Florida.

In the Keys, where the storm roared ashore Sunday morning with winds of 130 mph, video showed houses shoved from their foundations and boats tossed onto the pavement.

Emergency managers there declared "the Keys are not open for business" and warned that there was no fuel, electricity, running water or cell service and that supplies were low and anxiety high. 

Debris litters Florida Keys streets post-Irma

"HELP IS ON THE WAY," they said on Facebook.

Search crews planned to go door to door in the hard-hit Keys to check on residents. Crews worked to clear the single highway that connects the island chain with the mainland, inspecting dozens of bridges. An aircraft carrier was to be anchored off Key West as an emergency center, and officials planned drone flights to survey the damage.

In the Jacksonville area, close to the Georgia line, storm surge brought flooding at levels not seen in more than 50 years, with at least 46 people pulled from swamped homes.

Irma's storm surge historic for Jacksonville area

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office warned residents along the St. Johns River to "Get out NOW." A flash flood emergency is in effect in the river basin until 6:15 p.m. Monday.

"If you need to get out, put a white flag in front of your house. A t-shirt, anything white," the sheriff's office said on its Facebook page. "Search and rescue teams are ready to deploy."

Outside Orlando, more than 120 homes were being evacuated early Monday as floodwaters started to pour in. Firefighters and National Guardsmen went door to door and used boats to ferry families to safety.

The full breadth of the damage statewide remained unclear, with communications and travel cut off by high winds and flooding.