Teams from the City of Marathon spent many hours “cutting their way in” after leaving the Emergency Management Operation in Ocean Reef where they sheltered during Hurricane Irma.
“Our guys have done an incredible job — firefighters, contractors, staff and everybody who came out to help,” said Marathon City Manager Chuck Lindsey. He said the roads were impassable and it was slow going.
As of 10 p.m., there is no water, no electric power, no fuel and no sewage treatment in Marathon. The city also has no communication, relying on spotty service from the few satellite phones in the hands of officials.
The team from Marathon made it all the way into town and a triage station has been set up at Marathon Fire Station 14, next to the airport. The airport is currently being readied for military transport planes to land, bringing supplies and search-and-rescue teams.
Lindsey said the structural damage is “substantial,” but “recoverable.” He said the number of injuries to those who did not evacuate is not as great as feared.
He said the oceanside of Marathon was the hardest hit, and the bayside seems to be — in general — okay. However, he cautioned residents to temper their expectations as the individual scenarios can vary greatly.
Lindsey said the National Guard landed in the Keys today with a crew of 200. The city’s immediate needs are fuel, water and communications. Monroe County is in charge of allowing residents back into the Florida Keys. Lindsey said it’s uncertain when the general public will be allowed back in. However, according to Monroe County, the citizens of the Upper Keys and business owners have already been allowed access. Also entering are the essential personnel who serve roles in government, utilities and medical care.
“Listen, we have all pulled together with what I like to call the Marathon community spirit. We are getting to the homes and we are finding everybody safe,” said Lindsey.