Hurricane Irma: ‘Monster Storm’ Leaves Florida Looking Like ‘War Zone,’ Relief And Cleanup Underway

As Hurricane Irma tore a path to Florida, she left devastation in her wake. The hurricane damaged buildings, tearing the roof off of many, downed trees and electrical lines, and brought on powerful storm surges. The “monster storm” took on the Turks and Caicos, as well as the coast of Cuba before ripping through the Florida Keys and making landfall in Southwest Florida.

MSNBC reported approximately 90 percent of Barbuda was destroyed by Irma.

The president of the area’s Red Cross stated, “If you know Barbuda before and what you saw, it’s completely destroyed.”

The government soon began evacuating the remaining residents to Antigua in preparation for Hurricane Jose. Category 4 Hurricane Jose headed back to sea without causing further damage.

Dominique Vilier tells a heartbreaking tale of looting and robbery. Homes are being burglarized with residents still inside. The theft in the wake of Irma has left many people without food and water.

One woman, while waiting at San Juan airport in Puerto Rico with many others evacuees, told CNN of the supply shortages caused by Hurricane Irma.

“We’re missing gas for vehicles, diesel gas for generators, diesel gas for all the trucks and front loaders needed to clear the rubble. The biggest problem right now is the lack of communications. People just don’t know what’s happening.”

U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson assured residents on Monday that help is on the way, and efforts are being made to restore electricity and wireless internet.

The U.S. government sent a flight to St. Martin on Monday to evacuate citizens stranded on one of the hardest hit islands. Coming as no surprise, evacuees were warned to expect a long wait without running water at the airport. To many, this was a small price to pay.

In the Florida Keys, both mobile homes and houses were ripped from their foundation. Boats anchored in the water were also damaged by the powerful force of Hurricane Irma. In the tweet below, a reporter describes what he saw as a “war zone.”

Those who did not evacuate the keys corroborated his story, describing the sound of Irma’s wrath as none other than live explosives.

Gastesi made the following statement to WFOR.

“That’s known as ground zero if you will. That’s the worst spot. I am very confident that we’ll be able to handle this challenge. The Keys are a very resilient community. We’ll be fine. This is the cost of living in paradise.”

Certain areas of Monroe County are allowing citizens back into the Florida Keys as of 7 a.m. on Tuesday. Keys Weekly noted that residents hoping to return to Key Largo, Islamorada, or Tavernier must provide proof of either business ownership or proof of residency or they will be denied entrance.

Hurricane Irma pummeled Florida from coast to coast, reaching wind gusts as high as 142 mph Sunday afternoon. The heavy rains and storm surge flooded homes and landed boats, knocking out the electricity and communications for over 3 million residents. Water surged through the streets, waist-deep in some areas.

The cranes on multi-level construction zones in Miami, Florida, proved destructive as the heavy winds sent three of them into their respective building below. The monstrous storm kept emergency officials hunkered down.

Those who live in Tampa and St. Petersburg were prepared for a direct hit, however, by the time Irma reached the area, her winds had reduced to less than 100 mph. As a result, the damage was less than first expected. Governor Rick Scott told USA Today the damage caused by Irma “along the southwest cost in such places as Naples and Fort Myers was not as bad as feared.”

Sweetwater is a small, primarily Spanish-speaking town in Southwest Flordia. Although the trees fell, streets became rivers, and roofs were removed by high winds, the spirit of community shone through. Cleanup efforts began almost immediately. Not long after the hurricane passed, residents of the area began the long process of piecing their home back together. Generators kicked on and chainsaws were fired up.

When times are at their worst, the smallest “silver linings” begin to show. In the midst of Hurricane Irma’s fiercest winds, a new life came into this world. In Little Haiti, with emergency responders on the phone, a mother delivered a baby girl. Both mother and daughter, Nayiri Storm, are doing well.

[Featured Image By Gerald Herbert/AP Images]