Hurricane Irma Leaves Behind Devastated Areas In Florida Keys

Sep 12, 2017
Originally published on September 12, 2017 6:06 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Well, Rachel, I want to ask a public official that very thing that you just brought up. We have Jimmy Weekley on the line. He is a city commissioner from Key West. He's on the line from Chattanooga, Tenn., where he rode out the storm. Jimmy Weekley, good morning to you.

JIMMY WEEKLEY: Good morning.

GREENE: You worried about hearing a resident of the Keys say I'm never going to evacuate again because he's just so frustrated?

WEEKLEY: Yeah, I am. And there's a lot you have to understand about that, that, you know, the officials that stayed behind and the cleanup crews that stayed behind, they have to look at public safety first. And with the number of power lines that were down and the devastation that occurred, they don't want people coming back in until they know that they're - they can protect their lives and the areas are secured from debris and all the power lines that have come down are reconnected so there isn't any fatalities from people arriving down there too early and kicking a wire over or picking up a wire to move and causes a fatality.

GREENE: A lot of potential hazards there. What can you - have you been able to be in touch with fellow officials who stayed behind and are still in Key West? What are they telling you?

WEEKLEY: Yes, I have. I've been able to connect with the emergency management people that stayed behind at the EOC in Key West. And they're telling me that there's - that they don't have any food, there's not any water, there's no fuel. They are able to send some water in for rationing from 10 to 12 o'clock every day because of the damage to the pipeline. You know, we get all our water from Florida City, which is just outside of Miami. There's a pipe down. And there's been - because of the destruction of trailer parks and the water wasn't turned off, there's water going into the ground. Because of trees turning over and breaking the pipeline, there's water.

So they've been controlling, you know, the time that they let water through the line to give people an opportunity to have some line. One of the bigger issues in Key West is that our sewer treatment plant went down as well.

GREENE: Oh, really? So...

WEEKLEY: Yes.

GREENE: ...This is going to be a long road back for the Keys.

WEEKLEY: It's a long road back. I was able to speak with the city manager last night. He has a landline that - there's only one landline in the city hall there right now. And they can only call out on it. They can't get incoming calls. So he gave me a call last night. And they're looking at another 7 to 10 days before they're going to allow people into Key West.

GREENE: I hope you make - and people are doing OK. Jimmy Weekley is a city commissioner from Key West. Thanks a lot.

WEEKLEY: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.