Everglades City councilman reports Hurricane Irma left 'a lot of damage down there'

Everglades City Council Member Parker Oglesby, who evacuated to a spot near Cedar Key, said Sunday he's hearing reports of heavy damage from Hurricane Irma.

Oglesby said he had been in touch via text with other city officials who stayed behind to ride out the storm. They reported heavy damage to homes, including lost roofs. The historic Rod and Gun Club lost part of its roof, Oglesby said he was told.

“There was a lot of damage down there. And now the water is coming in really rapidly,” he said.

Some cars were smashed by felled palm trees. Outside a sheriff's office by Alligator Alley, a couple stood outside their pickup truck, watching the flood ripple across County Road 29.

"We've been through this before but never this bad," said Thomas Schramm, 52, a resident of Chokoloskee who evacuated ahead of Hurricane Irma and hasn't been back since.

Nobody has. First responders haven't been able to break through the floodwaters that have cut off Collier County's most southern city.

Last night the plan was to get into the city today to start assessing damage and helping whoever needs it, said Caleb Morris, Greater Naples Rescue battalion chief. But firefighters left the area a little after 3 a.m. and haven't been back since.

Meanwhile, those who hunkered down are cut off and evacuees are stuck looking at a rising tide.

"Nobody's getting back in unless they're swimming," said Schramm.

Schramm's neighbor sent him picture of chest-high water throughout the city, flooding through the streets like a river, submerging cars and splashing against church walls.

"The worst part is I don't have a penny of insurance," Schramm said.


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After getting a brief update, he lost contact with his colleagues, Oglesby said.

He declined to name the city officials briefing him.

Just South of U.S. 41. State Road 29 was covered by water and impassable Sunday evening.

Several cars were parked on the shoulder of the road.

Greater Naples firefighters near the intersection said no one had gone into or left Everglades City all day. The first responders said they didn't know the extent of the damage or storm surge. They hope to get into the community on Monday but as of late Sunday evening, Everglades City was cut off.