Hurricane Irma damage was widespread in southern Florida, with the storm destroying 25% of Florida Keys homes, FEMA officials announced during a press conference Tuesday. Many other residences faced heavy damage and millions continue to lack power.
Irma made landfall Sunday morning as a Category 4 hurricane before eventually weakening. Still, areas the storm hit like Key West and Naples, with almost “every house in the Keys” being affected in some way, FEMA Administrator Brock Long said.
Post-Irma relief efforts launched on Tuesday as some 90,000 Miami Beach and Florida Keys residents were allowed to begin returning to their homes (while being warned of heavy flooding and damage). “Returning residents should consider that there are limited services. Most areas are still without power and water. Cell service is spotty. And most gas stations are still closed,” said the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners on its Facebook page. The storm itself “will continue to weaken” on Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Military officials estimate that some 10,000 people who didn’t originally leave the area will still have to be evacuated from the Florida Keys. It could take weeks to restore power to millions of homes across the state, and the property damage on insured entities could cost anywhere from $20 billion to $40 billion, according to catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide.