by Florenz Legaspi, ABS-CBN News
JACKSONVILLE, FL — Downed power lines, submerged homes, devastated communities. Irma, the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history, tore a path of destruction in various parts of Florida.
Governor Rick Scott said the Sunshine State has a long road ahead before it can fully recover from Irma’s wrath.
“Storm surge across south and southwest Florida range from four to eight feet. Monroe County experienced an estimated 10 feet of surge at landfall. Miami-dade experienced approximately four feet of storm surge,” said Scott. “In central Florida, in the Orlando area, we’re seeing flooding due to a torrential rain of more than a foot. In Jacksonville, northeast Florida, storm surge is three to five feet on top of more than a foot of rainfall, which is causing record and historic flooding along the St. John’s River.”
President Donald Trump approved a major disaster declaration in Florida, authorizing federal funding to go directly to victims of Irma and reimbursing local communities and the state government to aid in response and recovery.
Filipinos in this part of Florida could not believe their eyes when communities not normally prone to flooding suffered from the storm surge.
“I was shocked. I think everybody was shocked including my neighbors,” said Orange Park resident Paul Junio. “Thank God. Salamat sa Diyos, buhay pa tayo. Buhay pa kami… and we have another day to live.”
“Tumaas yung tubig ng mga lake, talagang nakakatakot,” said Mina Noble of Jacksonville. “We expect na mangyari po yan kasi nasa balita naman na tataas yung tubig hanggang 15 feet so nag pray na lang po kami.”
“I have been here for a while and I’ve never seen anything like this before, so I mean it’s like one of those historic moments of your life. It’s good I’ve lived through it.”
For Marissa, Irma’s impact could have been worse. But she believes her state was prepared for the hurricane.
“I think we got good advice from the mayor, the president. We got pretty good advice from everybody to like, go to a shelter, evacuate. It could have been worse but I feel we did a pretty good job in evacuating properly.”