By Patrick N. Moes, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District
EVERGLADES CITY, Fla., Oct. 20, 2017 — The Hurricane Irma-caused storm surge of around eight feet brought catastrophic destruction to this community and specifically Fisherman Cove’s mobile home park here.
The water that caused the destruction has receded, but the scars are visible. Home after home bears the spray-painted words “demo” as an indication that the home is no longer habitable and is slated for demolition.
“Devastation is devastation, regardless if it’s on a small scale or a big scale,” said Steve Harris, a quality assurance inspector with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Huntington District. Harris and three of his co-workers were at the mobile home park Oct. 18 to conduct site inspections.
Their report, once complete, will be submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help determine if temporary housing options are available to storm survivors.
The Huntington District team, which also includes Travis Wilson, Jason Freeman, and Anita Bradburn, are focusing their attention on Florida’s Collier, Hendry and Lee counties.
The team is looking at every aspect of the site to determine whether there are any barriers that would prohibit a temporary home being brought to the location. The team also looks for water and sewer lines and maps out the size of the area.
Harris said the team has looked at hundreds of sites since arriving to support the recovery efforts. He said he’s found the homeowners to be very grateful.
“They just want a little bit of hope,” Harris said.
Wilson said the people he’s encountered have lost everything but are appreciative for the help.
“It’s great to see the impact of our work,” he said. “I plan to be here as long as they need us here, as long as these people need help.”
Harris agreed as he looked over the damage and said, “You can’t help but feel personally attached to these people.”