Massive cleanup effort underway in Sarasota County after Hurricane Irma

Many still without power, lots of debris left to clean up

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Sarasota County officials are still encouraging people to stay inside their homes because there is still a lot of cleanup left to do after Hurricane Irma.

The debris and damage are extensive, and it still can be hazardous to get out on the roads.

All throughout the day on Sunday, Hurricane Irma inflicted her wrath upon Sarasota. And through the night it had many worried about what they would find.

As the sun rose on Monday, people finally got a chance to go outside. For many, the roads were not an option.

Downed tree limbs blocked streets throughout the county, and some trees were plucked or torn apart by Hurricane Irma and left on top of homes.

“All of us really thought we were never going to see our houses again. It’s hard to believe the sun’s out,” said resident Ellen McKeefe. “I’ll pick up as many palm fronds as I have to. I mean we really, it’s trite, but we dodged a bullet.”

Sarasota certainly did, but there’s still a big mess to clean up.

At the Sun-N-Fun RV resort, floodwaters made some roads impassable. Throughout the resort, fences were torn down, and homes had minor damage.

“We’ll rebuild, we’ll clean up. It might take a few weeks but everybody’s safe,” said Director of Facilities Shannon Wilson.

Throughout Sarasota County, power outages were rampant. Work crews rushed to help as many customers as they could, but it took time.

Unfortunately, around 100 traffic lights were out too, and despite persistent warnings from officials, there were accidents and minor injuries.

It’s a reminder to be cautious while driving after a storm.

But overall, everyone is thankful that the damage was not catastrophic.

“It’s gonna be days, weeks, to get back where we’re at but we’re just blessed to still be here,” said Trevor Wilson.

On Tuesday the cleanup continues and county services will slowly start to get back online as Sarasota works to return to normal.

There’s still more damage to come. Emergency officials warn that the Myakka River is going to flood over the next 48 hours, and there are some homes in that area, so they’re encouraging people in those areas to move their vehicles to higher ground or stay in a safer location.

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