Everglades City residents desperate for help after Hurricane Irma ruins homes

Posted at 6:59 PM, Sep 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-13 18:59:24-04

Hurricane Irma packed a powerful punch to much of Florida, and Everglades City - s low-lying area near the hurricane's landfall mark - took that punch on the nose. Up to 4 feet of storm surge in the town and surrounding area left mud and silt in homes and businesses throughout Everglades City, Chokoloskee and Plantation Island.

"What the wind spared, the water did not," said Teala Stokes of Chokoloskee. "I know so many people who just lost their houses. The water rushed through here quicker than I think any of us imagined was possible."

After the water receded, Parker Oglesby of the Everglades City Council was just one of many residents whose house was filled with mud.

"All of our personal belongings, everything, it just got wiped out," Oglesby said. "That's why we desperately need to get some diaster clean-up help in here, or some FEMA help."

Help has trickled into the isolated community bit by bit. The Red Cross was in town Tuesday setting up a supply pick-up location near the old Collier County Courthouse in the center of town, making available a number of essentials such as bottled water, food and toiletries.

"Everybody's happy," said Robert Sykora of Plantation Island. "At least somebody's showing up now."

Sykora lost his home to Irma and like others, is now sleeping in his car.

"A total disater," he said. "I lost my place, it's totally flooded. Everything's ruined."

He hopes relief organizations can help bring some RVs to the area for people to live in temporarily.

Efforts are being made to feed the people in the area.

"One of the churches in Chokoloskee coordinated dinners for everyone here in town last night," said Lynn McMillin. "They fed about 150 people. The Cajun Navy came with gas for generators - they went all around and dispersed that."

The Red Cross and FEMA were expected to arrive late Wednesday, McMillin added.