Irma destroyed about 25% of houses in Florida Keys, FEMA says

(CNN) The full breadth of Hurricane Irma's catastrophic attack on the Florida Keys is just now starting to emerge.

Two days after Irma made landfall there, authorities and residents were finally able to reach some of the islands Tuesday.

What they found was devastating: An estimated 25% of the houses on the chain of islands have been destroyed, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Tuesday. Another 65% suffered major damage.

"Basically, every house in the Keys was impacted some way," FEMA Administrator Brock Long said.

It's still not clear how many casualties Irma caused on the Keys. Transportation officials are trying to determine whether bridges between the islands can withstand any weight.

Darwin Tabacco, who stayed on Big Pine Key during Irma, is one of the fortunate residents. Both he and his house survived.

"A lot of people lost everything," he said Tuesday morning. "There's homes blown off the stilts. There's power lines down all over the place. Trees completely uprooted. People's businesses flooded. Septic fields flooding. It's just terrible."

William Rose told CNN his family in the Keys is unreachable. He's not sure whether his mother, stepdad, grandmother and aunt survived.

"I have no idea, but I'm trying to stay positive," Rose said.

Before the Keys lost cell phone service, he received a text from his mother, who chose not to evacuate.

"This is terrible. I will never do this again," the text read. "I'm so glad you got out."


More Stories

Don't Miss

Trending Stories

Latest News