Lessons Everglades City learned from Hurricane Irma

Published: June 3, 2022 6:24 PM EDT
Updated: June 3, 2022 6:29 PM EDT

Everglades City is using the lessons it learned from being hit hard by Hurricane Irma to prepare for the storm that is making its way toward Southwest Florida.

The devastation from Hurricane Irma is burned into the memories of all living in Everglades City and Chokoloskee.

“The towns just a few feet above sea level so when the water rose it was four foot high in the streets, and it was bad it, was a lot of garbage a lot of junk,” said Steve Markley of Everglades City. “A lot of tore up houses. A lot of people lost everything.”

Luckily, Markley didn’t lose much and got out in time.

“I come back down here the day after it was horrible it really was horrible,” said Markley.

Keith Davis couldn’t forget the storm if he tried.

“We came back to check on our dogs and there was no power no water and it was like a war zone. I mean it was really muddy and you know just muddy smelling,” said Davis.

Now, the homes are repaired, pools are restored, and businesses are thriving once again.

Once again, though, it’s hurricane season, and tropical trouble is swirling.

“Well, when there’s a major hurricane on this floor there probably is as many as 300 people between this room and the floor above us,” said Dan Summers, director of Collier County Emergency Services.

Summers remembers Irma well.

“It was just big. It was just challenging, and our lesson learned from that continue to build more resource capability locally and build more staffing strength build more bench strength,” said Summers.

That means more people to get you the information you need when a hurricane hits through the county’s “Alert Collier” notification system.

Once the storm passes, “I’ll just say making sure that you’re helping your neighbor be patient it takes time to do all the debris removal and recovery effort,” Summers said.

Something the people of Everglades City know all too well.

“You know what sticks with me is the people coming together. And helping each other. That really does,” said Markley.

“It was just shocking it was shocking and it was but you know what this is a tight-knit community and we all help each other you know helped each other clean up our yards and everything else,” said Davis.