FOX5KRBK.com - (9/12/2017)
Power remains out for as many as 10 million people across Florida, many millions more in surrounding states after Hurricane Irma lashed the southeast with high winds and flooding this week. Now that the skies have cleared, recover efforts are beginning, with Miami International Airport opening on a limited basis Tuesday. However, places like the hard hit Florida Keys, where power is still out for most, have a much longer recovery ahead. Brock Long, FEMA head, warning, "this is going to be a frustrating event. It's gonna take some time to allow people back into their homes, particularly in the Florida Keys."
In places like Charleston, South Carolina, storm surge from Irma's remnants has that area dealing with flood damage. Jacksonville, Florida is also reeling after Irma triggered historic flooding there Monday and rescues have been ongoing was waters remain high. Just south of Jacksonville, significant damage with many homes and buildings destroyed in Vilano Beach. One home even tumbling off of its foundation due to the extreme storm surge.
Clay County Florida Emergency Manager John Ward urging people to stay off the roads and out of the area if they can, "(we have many) power outages, lots of trees down in our area and this is going to be an ongoing event.."
Power and emergency crews are spreading out across the region to help, some two thirds of Florida's population still have no power.
In the hard hit Florida Keys, officials now say it appears that a quarter of all homes across the keys have been destroyed by Irma and 65 percent of homes there sustained major damage. The high winds and storm surge re-arranging many buildings in a mobile home park in Isla Morada, most a total loss. in Cudjoe Key many of the homes partial destroyed, sides and roofs ripped off. Cudjoe Key resident Shawne Street road the storm out in her home, now facing the prospect of rebuilding, "When Katrina kit Louisiana and stuff like that... you feel sorry for people and and you think oh what are they going through... but when it hits home it's totally different you know.. and it's not just us it's everybody."
At this point a navy aircraft carrier is in position off Key West, helping as a large scale search and rescue operation is getting underway. There's currently no clean drinking water, limited gas, and hospitals across the keys remain closed.
Just getting in an out of the keys remains a challenge, many roads are closed due to debris and engineers are inspecting the many bridges connecting the islands to ensure they are safe for travel. Governor Rick Scott speaking to reporters Tuesday afternoon, "I'm praying that -- when people get to see the damage in the Keys, we don't lose anybody else down there."
Up and down the coast, flooding problems continue as anxious residents begin returning home in some areas to get a first hand look at the devastation. FEMA is now out in force throughout the state, promising a strong response. Long saying, "it's all about communication, clearly identifying how to support our state and local partners and that's exactly what's taking place today as we start to turn the corner."
Some evacuation orders have been lifted... now homeowners doing what they can to clean up their neighborhoods... many thankful the damage isn't worse. Darby Chew, a Bonita Springs resident, surveying the damage to his neighborhood, "I'm thankful that we are all here alive, I'm thankful that our community is out and trying to assess our damage."
In any areas gas is still in short supply as people flood back home, long lines at gas stations across the state. In Tampa, ports were expected to open Tuesday evening, allowing tankers to bring in more fuel.