After Hurricane Irma overwhelmed the Florida Keys with 15-foot storm surges and 130 mph winds, causing the worst flooding the chain of islands has experienced in nearly a century, federal officials’ first assessment of the damage suggests that nearly a quarter of the homes on the island were destroyed, according to the Associated Press. While not every home is beyond repair, officials said no structures escaped some form of damage.
“Basically every house in the Keys was impacted in some way or another,”Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long said at a news conference. “This is why we ask people to leave.”
While residents and business owners in the Upper Keys as far south as Islamorada were allowed back into the area Tuesday morning, Monroe County officials urged people to stay away. “Fuel, water, power & medical super limited,” the county said on Twitter, according to WSJ. The county has about 53,000 housing units, census figures show. Nearly all are on the Keys, a 110-mile ribbon of low-lying islands linked by bridges. Monroe County is home to 79,000 people, the vast majority of whom live on the archipelago.
Meanwhile, workers Tuesday rushed to find any victims who had remained on the islands during the storm, and deliver food and water.
“It’s going to be pretty hard for those coming home,” said Petrona Hernandez, whose concrete home on Plantation Key with 35-foot walls was unscathed, unlike others a few blocks away. “It’s going to be devastating to them.”
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