Boats, houses rest on top of houses in Big Pine Key after Irma

Nick Harding’s house in the Florida Keys is still standing after Hurricane Irma.

“Looks are deceiving,” Harding told Local 10 News.

Indeed. A closer look shows how high the water seeped into his house. 

“We had 18 inches of water inside the house,” he said.

Trees that once lined his yard are now scattered everywhere. His fence is gone and his boats have been moved from their original spots.

“We had our big boat, which was behind the sea center, all 17 tons of her come out of the water,” Harding said. “It’s laying there. It’s totaled.” 

Harding, like many in the Keys, left during the mandatory evacuation. He and his wife got back two days ago, and now they’re trying to figure out how to clean up all that Irma left behind.

“The Keys that I knew and loved a couple of weeks ago, they’re gone,” Harding said.

A 32-foot boat that was on a boat lift somehow landed on top of a home. It wasn’t just boats. Elsewhere, a house was resting on top of another house.

“I own all this and I don’t have insurance or nothing,” Art Koltunak said. 

A huge tree fell on top of Koltunak’s mobile home. He knows he’s lucky to be alive. 

For many like Koltunak and Harding, it’s a waiting game.

Harding said he’s been trying to contact the Federal Emergency Management Administration and insurance investigators, but the lines are always busy. Patience is now needed as so many try to get their lives back on track.

“I’m sure the Keys will come back, but it’s going to break the back and hearts of many,” Harding said.

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Broward County firefighter helping with Irma relief efforts gives Key deer water

A Broward County firefighter who was helping with the Hurricane Irma recovery efforts in the Florida Keys stumbled upon a Key deer while surveying an “incredibly damaged” home.

“I don’t know who was more scared, myself or the deer,” Broward Sheriff’s Office Department of Fire Rescue Lt. Nicholas Johnson said.

Johnson said the deer looked thirsty, so he got some bottles of water to give to the endangered animal. He said the deer drank all four bottles before running away.

“It’s nice to help out the wildlife, as well as the citizens of Monroe County,” Johnson said.

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Class-action lawsuit filed against FPL after Irma leaves millions without power

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Florida Power & Light on behalf of all Florida residents who were without — and some who remain without — electricity after Hurricane Irma.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in Miami-Dade County court.

According to the lawsuit, FPL collected storm charge fees to allow for trees near power lines to be pruned and for moving some power lines underground. But FPL didn’t do what was promised, the lawsuit claims.

“Obviously, they did not honor that promise, but nonetheless continue to collect millions and millions and millions of these fees,” South Florida attorney Gonzalo Dorta said at a news conference to announce the lawsuit.

Dorta said FPL began collecting the fees after Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

“What happened here was not a snowstorm,” Dorta said. “It was a wind and rain event, which is typical in South Florida. But this is a monopoly that agreed to provide services in South Florida where these events are foreseeable.”

The city of Coral Gables recently threatened legal action in a letter to FPL, saying the company has been slow to act.

“We understand that it’s extremely frustrating for our customers to be without power,” FPL spokesman Richard Beltran said in a statement. “That said, frivolous lawsuits and ludicrous code violations that attempt to pressure us into providing preferential treatment for their city will not work. Our focus is on restoring power to all of our customers, and we will not be moved by self-entitled politicians who are looking for someone to blame for the city’s irresponsibly managed tree program. The fact is the city of Coral Gables has for many years resisted FPL’s well-documented efforts to trim trees and harden our electric system. Unfortunately for our customers in that area, they are now paying the price in terms of extended outages due to hundreds of trees that have fallen into our lines.”

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S. Fla. state senator used FPL connections to have power returned to family

A day after the outskirts of Hurricane Irma pounded South Florida, causing hundreds of thousands to lose power, one local politician attempted to use her FPL connections to restore electricity to the homes of her family.

A series of texts to an FPL lobbyist beginning on Monday, Sept. 11 shows Florida State Senator Daphne Campbell sent company Vice President John Holley the addresses for her mother and sister, requesting help with power restoration.

“I am helping people, helping constituents with some of their lights,” Campbell told Local 10. “I have done nothing wrong for all this news news news news.”

Rise News was first to report the story and Campbell confirmed to them that the texts were real.

Campbell, who represents District 38, which includes Miami Beach, North Miami, and other parts of northeastern Miami-Dade County, confirmed the texts at an event Saturday night.

The first text to Holley came at 1:55 p.m. on Monday, with Campbell requesting help as she had a sick person in her house on oxygen.

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After Holley replied that he would work on the matter, Campbell immediately texted back that it was her sister’s house, not hers.

A day later, Campbell texted again saying the power was still not on at her sister’s house, and then asked for help at her mother’s house.

Holley wrote back “I will def let them know,” referring to FPL.

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FPL confirms the text exchanges took place, but denied any wrongdoing on Holley’s part.

“I am positive that she did not receive special treatment,” FPL spokesperson Mark Bubriski told Rise News. 

Campbell told Local 10 that her mother is a constituent and her medical condition made her a priority.

Power was eventually restored to her mother’s address and that of her immediate neighbors on Sunday evening, but much of the neighborhood remains without power.

One week after Irma struck the South Florida area, almost 53,000 homes remain without power in Miami-Dade County, with an additional 13,400 in Broward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ruptured pipe sends gallons of sewage spilling into Miramar canals

A crew hired by the city of Miramar has been pumping potentially contaminated gunk out of canals in the Country Club Ranches neighborhood as residents in the area worry about long-term issues.

A tree knocked over by Hurricane Irma caused a pipe to burst on Sept. 11, sending gallons of sewage spilling into the canals and even into a yard.

“It is just disgusting. It really is. It’s a foul odor that’s just — you can just imagine,” Yeddy Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez and her family live near a canal just down the street from where the break happened.

She said the stench was unbearable until city workers came by and treated the water and roads with 700 pounds of chlorine.

But now, neighbors said they’re dealing with new infestations of mosquitoes, and they are worried that the well water they use every day to survive could be in danger of contamination.

“We’re utilizing this water to bathe (and) brush our teeth. We don’t know if this is getting into our well water,” Rodriguez said.

“We don’t know how long it’s going to take for this contamination to get into our wells, possibly, but it’s a real risk,” another neighbor, Mike Kaufman, said.

City officials said they have pumped out hundreds of thousands of gallons of the water in the canal and they are continuing to do testing to make sure the wells aren’t contaminated.

So far, no fecal bacteria have been found, but neighbors are worried that it’s just a matter of time.

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South Florida state senator used FPL connections to have power restored to family

A day after the outskirts of Hurricane Irma pounded South Florida, causing hundreds of thousands to lose power, one local politician attempted to use her Florida Power & Light connections to restore electricity to the homes of her family.

A series of text messages to an FPL lobbyist beginning on Monday, Sept. 11 shows Florida Sen. Daphne Campbell, D-North Miami Beach, sent company Vice President John Holley the addresses for her mother and sister, requesting help with power restoration.

“I am helping people, helping constituents with some of their lights,” Campbell told Local 10 News. “I have done nothing wrong for all this news, news, news, news.”

Rise News was first to report the story and Campbell confirmed to them that the texts were real.

Campbell, who represents District 38, which includes Miami Beach, North Miami, and other parts of northeastern Miami-Dade County, confirmed the texts at an event Saturday night.

The first text to Holley came at 1:55 p.m. on Monday, with Campbell requesting help as she had a sick person in her house on oxygen.

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After Holley replied that he would work on the matter, Campbell immediately texted back that it was her sister’s house, not her own.

A day later, Campbell texted again saying the power was still not on at her sister’s house, and then asked for help at her mother’s house.

Holley wrote back “I will def let them know,” referring to FPL.

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FPL confirms the text exchanges took place, but denied any wrongdoing on Holley’s part.

“I am positive that she did not receive special treatment,” FPL spokesperson Mark Bubriski told Rise News. 

Campbell told Local 10 that her mother is a constituent and her medical condition made her a priority.

“My mother is on oxygen,” Campbell said.

Power was eventually restored to her mother’s address and that of her immediate neighbors on Sunday evening, but much of the neighborhood remains without power.

“I did ask for other constituents,” Campbell said.

One week after Irma struck the South Florida area, almost 53,000 homes remain without power in Miami-Dade County, with an additional 13,400 in Broward County.

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