Hurricane Irma: Naples Mayor Bill Barnett says city was mostly spared

Bill Barnett

Hurricane Irma, with winds exceeding 130 mph, slammed downtown Naples on Sunday afternoon, but the city avoided major flooding as the storm's back half weakened, Mayor Bill Barnett said.

Naples crews saw no major structural damage and only minimal flooding in their initial post-storm tours, Barnett said.

“This was definitely worse than Wilma,” Barnett said, referring to the major hurricane that hit Naples in 2005. “But the only good thing about it is that the storm surge was minimal.”

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Forecasters had expected Irma to wreak historic flooding on large parts of downtown Naples, with some areas seeing standing water 10 to 15 feet.

But Irma weakened as the storm moved north over Southwest Florida late Sunday afternoon, slowing the eastward flow of wind that surges saltwater over land.

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Naples crews have yet to do a neighborhood-by-neighborhood check of the city. Fire rescue squads are expected to deploy at sunrise Monday, Chief Pete DiMaria said. And the whole city is likely without power, Barnett said.

But the early indication is that Irma, though it was the most powerful storm in recent memory, mostly spared Naples from the devastation that some had feared.

“Everything is preliminary, but the real bright side — if there is one — is that we didn’t get 15 feet of storm surge,” Barnett said. “That would have been catastrophic.”