As Hurricane Irma weakens, now churning as a tropical storm, those left in its wake are surveying the damage.
Doug Hanks, a former fishing guide located in Naples, Florida, captured much of the damage to the local area on his phone and has now been serving as something of a messenger for those worried about their homes.
After the storm passed, Hanks left his hotel — where he stayed for its higher elevation — around 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, saying, “I wanted to check on my house so we drove over there, but the water was too high — about three to four feet above the dock — so we walked. I knew where the power lines were so we were prepared.”
After posting the video of his flooded street and his mostly-undamaged home, “the next thing I know, I became something of a hotline for people in the neighborhood who want to know if their house is okay,” he tells PEOPLE.
“Once I leave one street, I get a call to go back for someone else,” he says.
He was relieved to see his house was okay and his neighbors have felt the same relief upon seeing his pictures.
Hanks is in good spirits even though “my yard is a mess” and “there’s lots of damage from trees,” he says. “It could’ve been a lot, lot worse.”
The avid hunter did see a trailer park that he said is in “very bad shape. Roofs and walls blown off. One home had a table and chairs sitting straight up but the walls blown off.”
Of Irma’s overall damage, Hanks says, “This is definitely the worst storm I’ve ever seen, hands down, no question. And the worst we’ve had since Hurricane Donna. It drained the bay dry. It coincided with low tide so when the front of the storm came in, it took all the water from the bay. As low as it could go – basically dry,” he says.
“Then the eye came, that’s the first time an eye has passed over Naples since Hurricane Donna. It was incredibly eerie. You cannot believe how clear and absolutely calm, not a breath of wind. All the birds came out. We were all looking at each other going, ‘Wow, this is weird.’ It lasted about 20-25 minutes. It was a half-time break. Then, we could all just feel it starting back up so we went inside.”