Hurricane Irma: Marco Island on the path to recovery
Three days ago Marco Island was silent, dark and residents needed a kayak or canoe to travel down some of the streets. Now, the sound of chainsaws echoes across the island, lights are starting to flicker on and cars can be seen driving all around the city or lined up to get gas. In other words, Marco Island is recovering.
Water service was restored Monday, but the city is currently under a boil water notice, and pressure will remain low until some pump repairs can be made at one of the plants. Waste management will resume service Thursday.
Power has also been restored to 60 percent of the city, and is expected to be fully restored by the end of the weekend.
The city's roads, some of which were under 1 to 2 feet of water Sunday night, are mostly dry, save for a few puddles.
"All roads are now fully passable and dry," Marco Island City Council Chair Larry Honig wrote in a guest commentary Wednesday. "The surge effects, which late Sunday inundated a portion of the island’s southeast quadrant, subsided quickly."
However Marco Island Police Department Capt. Dave Baer said residents should still be vigilant when driving, especially since many of the city's traffic lights aren't working.
"Use extreme caution when driving down the roadway or walking down sidewalks as there is still landscaping debris and power lines impacting these areas," he wrote in an email to the city Wednesday afternoon. "Stop at all intersections with damaged traffic signals or stop signs."
According to Marco Island Fire-Rescue Chief Mike Murphy, approximately 15 homes lost roofs; the rest suffered only minimal damage. Gil Polanco, Marco Island's interim city manager, said that's a sign of the city's strength.
"Marco Island has shown the world that we were well prepared and that the integrity of our homes and structures are sound," he wrote in a letter to the public Wednesday.
Even the island's older homes weathered the storm well, according to Honig.
"There is surprisingly little major structural damage on the island. Even older homes took a beating and came out well," he wrote. "Having said that, it would be rare to find any home or business without some damage. In the residential neighborhoods, virtually every house lost a few roof tiles, bushes or trees, attic soffit guards, and even pool cages."
The Marco Island Building Department will begin processing limited permits next Monday.
"City management will prepare a process to quickly and safely review permits to ensure that citizens and businesses can begin to rebuild," Baer wrote. "We will have more specific information on requirements and timing once city leadership has an opportunity to discuss."
City officials are asking residents to continue being safe and patient during the recovery process.
"As I asked when we initially began to prepare for the hurricane, I again please to you as we take the necessary steps to fully recover: be safe," Polanco wrote. "We ask for your patience so that we don't put anyone in harm's way as we resume to a sense of normalcy, (and) we give thanks to the Almighty for protecting this everlasting magical island and its people."