News & Politics

Florida Keys Devastated -- 65 Percent of Houses Suffered Major Damage

Florida Keys Devastated -- 65 Percent of Houses Suffered Major Damage
Snappers Restaurant, after Hurricane Irma, Key Largo, FL. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald via AP)

It took until Tuesday — two days after Hurricane Irma made U.S. landfall on Cudjoe Key — for the extent of the destruction in the Florida Keys to become apparent. The property damage suffered in the Keys is similar to that which other Caribbean islands suffered under Irma.

FEMA Administrator Brock Long estimated that 25 percent of the houses in the Keys have been completely destroyed, while another 65 percent suffered major damage.  Long said, “Basically, every house in the Keys was impacted some way.”

Twelve deaths in Florida have been attributed to Hurricane Irma, however it’s still not clear how many casualties the storm caused in the Keys. According to the Reuters report below, the Monroe County commissioner has confirmed that people were killed in the Keys. Authorities have been “finding remains” according to the report, so the death toll in Florida is likely to rise.

Florida Keys resident William Rose told CNN he hasn’t heard from his family since Sunday morning.

He’s not sure whether his mother, stepdad, grandmother and aunt survived Irma’s wrath. “I have no idea, but I’m trying to stay positive,” Rose said. Before the Keys lost cellphone service, Rose received a text from his mother, who chose not to evacuate.

“This is terrible. I will never do this again,” the text read. “I’m so glad you got out.”

Transportation officials are working on the bridges between the islands, according to CNN.

The Florida Department of Transportation is repairing two sections of US 1 that were washed away by Irma, one at mile marker 37 and the other at mile marker 75.
Darwin Tabacco, who stayed on Big Pine Key during Irma, is one of the fortunate residents. Both he and his house survived.
“A lot of people lost everything,” he said Tuesday morning. “There’s homes blown off the stilts. There’s power lines down all over the place. Trees completely uprooted. People’s businesses flooded. Septic fields flooding. It’s just terrible.”

Power outages affected over 5 million homes, organizations, and businesses in Florida — including gas stations, which need the electricity to keep pumps working.

It’s a long wait for those sifting through what’s left of their homes throughout Florida in the oppressive heat and high humidity — doing so while they wait for the power, and thus the air conditioning, to come back on.

All customers who lost electricity on the eastern side of the state will likely have power restored by the end of this weekend, Florida Power & Light said Tuesday.

An FPL official told reporters at a Broward County news conference that of the 790,000 customers in that county who lost power, 330,000 had their electricity restored Tuesday.

Members from the 125th Special Tactics Squadron, Oregon Air National Guard, and the 129th Rescue Wing, California Air National Guard, conducted a reconnaissance flight in a MC-130 over the Keys on September 10.  Their aerial footage below shows the utter devastation of the flooded Keys.

At the 1:25 mark is Bluewater Key RV luxury resort, where my family vacationed six weeks ago. Each RV site came (emphasis on the past tense) with a beautiful tiki hut.

It looks like they are going to have to rebuild the whole thing from scratch.

Here it is in better times: