Two days ago Hurricane Irma made its second landfall in Florida on Marco Island. Though the storm has now passed, the impact is just beginning to be felt by Southwest Florida citizens.
Yesterday Marco Island emergency service leaders met in front of City Hall to update the community on damages sustained to the island and surrounding areas.
Marco Island Fire Chief Michael Murphy and Police Chief Al Schettino led the press conference. Police Captain David Baer, Marco Island Fire Rescue Department (MIFRD) Division Chief David Batiato, Firefighter/EMT Chris Bowden, and interim City Manager Gil Polanco were also in attendance.
The bridge to Marco Island is now accessible. Parts of the island do have electricity and water, though other parts are without. Thousands of trees were uprooted during the storm. The main roads have been cleared. Trees, debris, and downed power lines scatter cul-de-sacs and residential roads. While the bridge is open, Chief Murphy advised residents to wait before making their way back down to the island.
“We’re encouraging people, if you don’t have to come back right now, don’t.”
According Chief Murphy, now their greatest concern now is the possible injuries that could be sustained by people attempting to reach the island. He urged residents to remain where they are for the time being until the all clear has been given. Electricity is estimated to return in full within the next few days.
Approximately 3,000-5,000 people remained on Marco Island during the storm. Prior to Irma’s landfall the fire and police departments set up a call center for residents who had decided to stay. Throughout the night they were in direct contact with those who needed assistance, including a family of five adults and two children who experienced flooding due to storm surge. The family has since evacuated the island.
Perhaps the most important bit of information is that there have been no fatalities reported. However, some minor injuries were sustained.
The homes, businesses, and structures of Marco Island are pretty battered. Luckily, no structure fires occurred.
“We have evaluated 1,500 single-family homes,” Chief Murphy said. “Of those 1,500 at least 15 lost their roofs or had major damage to them. The others almost all have accessory damage.”
To put this number into perspective, Marco Island has approximately 9,000 single-family homes, 800 multi-story homes, and 90 high rises. Accessory damage includes damage to pool cages, fences, and the homes themselves.
“We were very fortunate,” Chief Murphy said.
The flooding caused by storm surge was much lower than previously reported estimates. Marco received a few feet of water, which has now receded.
“The flooding actually came up to the canal side and the front side up to most homes and stopped before it actually went into the home,” Police Chief Al Schettino said.
According to Division Chief David Batiato, Goodland, the residential fishing town just outside of Marco Island, received significant damage.
As of right now both the Publix Supermarkets are open and operational. Some gas stations have received gasoline. Though it will take a few weeks, Marco Island is in the process of recovery.
“We have a long big job ahead of us,” Chief Murphy said.
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