“We need to get help down here”: Florida Keys residents face daunting challenges

More than 3 million homes and businesses are still without power in Florida. It could be a month before the lights are back on in parts of the Florida Keys. 

From the air, the search and rescue campaign in response to Hurricane Irma’s destruction is vast. On the ground, the effort is about knocking on doors — where there are doors to knock on. 

Fire and rescue teams are walking the debris-filled streets, marking homes that are safe and documenting the damage. 

CBS News’ Elaine Quijano spoke with Carlos Calvillo, who works with California Task Force 1, which operates under FEMA’s direction. The group is comprised of about 80 hazmat specialists, urban search and rescue crews, and doctors. 

With the help of K-9 officers, Calvillo’s team is looking for survivors. 

“If they actually detect human remains, or a live body, we’ll be able to come in, then we begin the process of taking the structure apart,” Cavillo said. “And in this case, we haven’t found anything.” 

Close to 10,000 residents in the Florida Keys rode out the storm. Twenty-five percent of homes were destroyed while 65 percent sustained damage. 

Peter Lauge’s home on Ramrod Key was heavily damaged and lacks power and water. With temperatures reaching 90 degrees, and stifling humidity, Lauge may have to evacuate. 

Residents tell Quijano they are preparing, and expecting not to have power for perhaps a month. With no running water and no cell phone service, people in the Keys are facing daunting challenges ahead. 

Meanwhile, in Key West, relief arrived in the form of two Chinook helicopters on Wednesday at an empty shopping center parking lot. For some people, it’s the first aid they’ve received since Irma made landfall. 

Massive recovery efforts are underway for residents stranded in the Florida Keys. 

CBS News

As soon as the helicopters took off, a line formed almost immediately. Dozens of people waited for food and water. They were told not to worry if they don’t get supplies this trip because more help is on the way. 

Bobby Ourada’s home was destroyed in the storm. 

“We tried to get some last night,” Ourada told CBS News’ Manuel Bojorquez. “We couldn’t get any. So thank God we finally got something. We need to get help down here. Please, everybody, come help us.” 

The sweltering heat only compounds the misery. Ourada says he regrets staying behind. 

“We should have evacuated, but we thought we’d be okay,” he said.

The tarmac at Homestead Air Force Base is a launching point for the relief mission, which now includes all five branches of the U.S. Military. 

© 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Article Source

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *