As It Happens

'It's just a wasteland': Florida Keys business owner gets 1st look at Irma's damage

Ted Dominick inspects the damage to his small resort near Marathon, a Florida Keys city that was "completely underwater" at the height of Hurricane Irma.
Ted Dominick says his small Florida Keys resort sustained a lot of damage during Hurricane Irma. (Ted Dominick )

Story transcript

Ted Dominick returned to the Florida Keys after Hurricane Irma to find the small resort he'd put his blood, sweat and tears into completely destroyed.

  The resort is near the hurricane-battered Middle Keys city of Marathon, which state representative  Holly Raschein said was "completely underwater" at the height of the storm.

"It's devastating," Dominick told As It Happens host Carol Off. "It's taken me about five years to get that property up and running ... and now it's just basically starting over again from scratch. I mean, from literally scratch."

That destruction, he said, is a common sight in the Keys. 

"It's just a wasteland. I mean, there's boats laying on the highway," he said. "There's boats tossed around like matchbox cars. It's unbelievable."

Boats were 'tossed around like matchbox cars' during Irma, says Ted Dominick. (Ted Dominick)

Residents and business owners were allowed to return Tuesday to some islands in the Keys as officials pieced together the scope of Irma's destruction. Meanwhile, aid rushed into the drenched and debris-strewn state.

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates about 25 per cent of the homes in the Keys were destroyed.

The Lower Keys — including the chain's most distant and most populous island, Key West, with 27,000 people — were still off-limits, with a roadblock in place where the single highway to the farther islands was washed out. Road repairs were promised in the coming days.

After flying over the Keys on Monday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott described overturned mobile homes, washed-ashore boats and rampant flood damage.

This photo provided by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office shows the wreckage of a truck wrapped around Marathon, Fla., in the Florida Keys on Saturday. Authorities say they are investigating whether Hurricane Irma's wind and rains contributed to the fatal crash. (Monroe County Sheriff's Office via Associated Press)

Dominick's home in Marathon also sustained flood damage, he said, although its elevation kept it largely intact. 

"Anything ground level, any of the modular homes and mobile homes, those are all gone," he said. "All the vegetation is gone. It's weird." 

More than 180,000 people huddled in shelters in the Sunshine State and officials warned it could take weeks for electricity to be restored to everyone.

Local residents walk along a destroyed trailer park in Plantation Key in the Florida Keys on Tuesday. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Dominick said he'll be heading back to Fort Lauderdale soon, as he has run out of food and grocery stores are still shuttered. 

When the area gets back up and running, he said he'll roll up his sleeves and rebuild. 

"It's super disheartening. I worked a long, long time to get my business to where it's at and I'm sure a lot of people feel the same way with their houses," he said.

"It's like you kind of want to give up, but you don't. You'll just fight through it again and make it happen again. We did it before, we'll do it again."


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