Sen. Marco Rubio visits Highlands County to witness Irma devastation

HIGHLANDS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Pete Bowen has a harrowing tale.

“The roof started to separate from the walls and the whole thing blew off,” he said as he sat outside his badly damaged mobile home.

When Hurricane Irma roared through Sebring a week ago, he stayed put inside that mobile home.

He moved into the Francis-1 Mobile Estates a month ago.

“Well, you know, one of those things,” he said.

Residents said a third of the homes in the park are in bad shape.

“You get going around the park and you’re just going to see places that are demolished,” said resident Ron Church.  “I mean, just totally demolished.”

Many parts of Highlands County experienced the wrath of Irma.

On Monday, Senator Marco Rubio came to the county to see it firsthand.

He visited the XL Ranch along State Road 70 were a dyke broke during the storm.

The owner said 35 percent of the ranch remains under water a week later.

“And just viewing here, this land, this operation here, a week later we’re looking at something you’d think is a river,” Rubio said.

The senator has spent days touring the state.  His main concern is the extensive damage to the citrus and cattle industries.

“One of the things we’ll have to go back and figure out is how to get disaster relief that includes agriculture. Congress hasn’t really done that in almost a decade now,” Rubio said.

Rubio explained that he plans to brainstorm with Sen. Bill Nelson to find ways to help the industries and people affected by Irma.

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