“I don’t have a house. I don’t have a job. I have nothing,” said Mercedes Lopez, 50, whose family fled north from the Florida Keys town of Marathon last Friday and rode out the storm at an Orlando hotel, only to learn their home was destroyed, along with the gasoline station where he worked.
“We came here, leaving everything at home, and we go back to nothing,” Lopez said. His and three other families from Marathon planned to venture back on Wednesday to salvage what they can.
Hurricane Irma evacuees began returning to the storm-ravaged Florida Keys on Tuesday to find homes ripped apart and businesses coated in seaweed amid a debris-strewn landscape where an estimated 25 percent of all dwellings were destroyed.
The death toll from Irma, previously ranked as one of the most powerful Atlantic storms on record and the second major hurricane to strike the U.S. mainland this season, climbed to more than five dozen. Of those, 43 were killed in the Caribbean and at least 18 in the Southeastern United States.