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Everglades City, Goodland still recovering from Irma

Posted at 8:08 PM, Sep 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-10 20:10:25-04
Everglades City and Goodland are some of the lowest lying areas in Southwest Florida, and took the brunt of the fury from Hurricane Irma.
 
At first glance, it looks like life is finally back to normal in the small community of Everglades City, one year after Hurricane irma. But a number of homes remain vacant, gutted, and awaiting repair.
 
"We're encouraging people not to fix the houses on the ground, if they can wait, I know its hard."
 
Everglades City Mayor Howie Grimm says the community is still waiting on FEMA money to help put damaged homes on stilts before they are fixed, so next time a storm comes through the surge doesn't flood them.
 
"Anywhere you walk in town there was 6 feet of water in town, it's hard to comprehend the water was up to here,” said Mayor Grimm.
 
Grimm would know, he saw the storm surge rise 8 feet in almost an hour, forcing him to evacuate to higher ground.
 
"I pulled my truck up from underneath the house, and as the water was coming down the street it started hitting the tailgate of the truck, picked the truck up and started moving it."
 
About 25 miles west of Everglades City, the community of Goodland was also hit hard by Irma, and like Everglades City, some people here are still trying to recover.
 
"It was naked, there wasn't a leaf on the trees or anything, no vegetation at all,” said Billy Oliver.
 
Oliver had just replaced the roof on his home right before we interviewed him earlier this month.
Billy evacuated Goodland, which sits on the Northeast side of Marco Island.
When he came back, his home and the rest of the community looked unrecognizable.
 
"It just kink of looked like a war zone had hit."
 
One year later, there are still homes with boards and tarps covering them in Goodland.  Some of the local businesses are still closed or are just now opening.
 
But Billy says Goodland has come a long way, thanks to the help of volunteers who descended on the community shortly after the storm hit.
 
"People were coming down from Kentucky, bringing their chain saws and bodies, helping us out."
 
He's especially grateful to the methodist church of marco island which helped fix his roof.
 
"Everything is getting back to normal with a real roof.  It's nice to go in the bathroom sit down and not have water dripping on your head."
 
 
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