Hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys on Sunday as a category 4 storm – but only now is the destruction becoming clear.
Although frustrated Floridians are anxious to return home, officials are still enforcing an access ban in the Lower Keys as they evaluate the infrastructure, the roadways, health hazards and other safety measures. A dawn-to-dusk curfew remains in place.
“The wind may have stopped blowing, but for most of the Florida Keys, there is no fuel, electricity, running water, or cell service. For many people, supplies are running low and anxiety is running high,” a statement from Monroe County officials said.
“Once the roads are cleared, and the bridges are inspected for use, aid and relief can start to move as it is flown in. There are many resources staged, and ready to move into the Florida Keys to help, as soon as possible.”
CBS Miami reporter David Sutta described the Lower Keys as resembling a “war zone” in a Monday tweet.
“It’s hard to describe lower keys right now. Best word I could say is war zone,” he wrote. “People are walking to find family and friends. No one knows.”
After a flyover of the devastated islands, Florida Governor Rick Scott said, “I just hope everyone survived,” according to The New York Times.
Parts of the Upper Keys were reopened Tuesday morning.
Irma has caused at least 11 deaths and left about 6.7 million people without power in five states, ABC News reports.
Michala Laufle, who rode out Irma in her Keys home, told CBS News she was glad she didn’t evacuate despite the warnings.
“For those people who left, they don’t know when they’re getting back in,” she said. “It might be another two weeks, so now that we’re here we can actually start to take care of the problem and rebuild and clean up and go from there.”
Although the brunt of the storm has passed, further evacuations may take place as there is no power or running water in areas.
The Department of Defense warned that the 10,000 people who stayed in the Keys may be forced to evacuate. The U.S. Navy dispatched the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and two other ships to the Florida Keys to help with search-and-rescue operations.
In places like Marathon, people’s homes were obliterated by 130 mph winds and nearly 15-feet of storm surge. Roads are flooded or covered with debris, and the cleanup efforts will be massive.
“It’s horrible, what we saw,” Scott said. “I know for our entire state, especially the Keys, it’s going to be a long road.”
Irma, downgraded to a tropical storm, brought heavy rain and wind to Atlanta on Monday night. Brunswick, Georgia, recorded over 6 inches of rain Monday and Beaufort, South Carolina, registered nearly 5.9 inches.