Tropical Storm Irma has unleashed some of Jacksonville’s worst floods in 100 years, inundated parts of coastal Georgia and produced heavy storm surges in Charleston, S.C.
Here's the latest:
- Irma has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but dangers linger for communities in its path
- The storm took a parting swipe at north Florida this morning before it started battering Georgia and South Carolina
- More than 155,000 people in Florida are still in shelters; more than 6 million Floridians lack power
- Irma has devastated several Caribbean islands
- What happens when the sea rises up during a hurricane?
Some of the Floridians hardest hit by Irma live in a modest residential neighborhood near the river in Bonita Springs, where waist-deep polluted water flows through their houses.
But that isn't keeping some of them from staying put. As a members of a rescue team cruise the flooded streets in a motorized raft, they say they are finding residents trapped in their homes who have no interest in leaving. The residents were determined to see the hurricane through in their homes, and now they are determined to stay in them until they are fully habitable again.
Some found their way onto plastic boats. Others pushed away debris such as nearly fully submerged garbage cans bobbing along the streets.
It could be a week before the massive pond of sewage-tainted storm water engulfing their properties recedes.
"They are happy stuck in their houses. They are saying, 'We have enough food and water, we are going to be fine,'" said Lt. Manny Hernandez of the Bonita Springs Fire Control & Rescue District.
The rescuers have been knocking on every door in the neighborhood as they float by. Some residents take up the offer and leave their homes, but others say, no, thank you.
Hernandez said he figured there were about a dozen people in homes inundated with waste-deep water. How many of them called for a rescue once the storm passed? Zero, he said.
The neighborhood is a wreck right now, and there are others like it nearby. Yet locals are surprised to see how few communities look that way. Forecasters predicted many, many more homes would be destroyed.
Even right across the beach in downtown Naples, where devastation was forecast, tony beach homes endured the storm with just a few scrapes and no serious water damage.
"The damage hasn't been as bad as I expected," said Hernandez as he waited for the rescue raft to get back from its rounds.