Damage Left in South Florida and the Florida Keys by Hurricane Irma Seen From the Air

Gov. Rick Scott, who spent the days before the storm hit beseeching the islands' residents to evacuate, said Monday that he is flying down to the Keys to survey the damage

Aerial images captured by the NBC 6 helicopter Monday morning revealed for the first time the scope of Hurricane Irma's desctruction in South Florida and the Keys.

Homes destroyed and roadways under water were visible across the debris-filled landscape in upper Keys and other parts of South Florida, chopper footage showed. 

Florida Gov. Rick Scott flew over the Keys Monday and reported seeing a lot of flood damage, boats washed ashore and mobile homes overturned. After assessing the extent of the "devestation," Scott said he hopes everyone who stated behind survived.

The string of islands, the first part of the state hit by the storm, were without water, power or cellphone service on Monday. Irma made landfall Sunday morning as a Category 4 storm at Cudjoe Key, about 75 miles from Key Largo.

As of about noon, six of the 42 bridges in the Keys had been inspected by the Florida Deptartment of Transportation and deemed unfit to reopen. The bridges had not been cleared of enought debris and downed power lines to be opened as vehicle access roadways. The department said U.S. Highway 1, which runs from the Florida mainland to the Keys, would be closed pending a complete assessment of the bridges. It reopened Tuesday. 

The National Guard was deployed to aid in rescue and recovery efforts, while the Navy aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln was is near the Keys ready to provide emergency services.

Search crews planned to go door-to-door in the hard-hit Keys to check on residents.

FEMA Chief Brock Long said he believed the Keys and Collier County in southwest Florida took the brunt of the storm.

He said teams were assessing the storm's impact on the bridges that link the keys, which may not be safe to cross.

"The roadway system has debris all over it. In some cases the bridge structures may not be safe to cross over," Long said on MSNBC.

One building that did withstand the storm is Ernest Hemingway's former home in Key West, now a museum. But the area around it was hit hard.

"We have no electricity, at least in this pat of Key West, we have no water, we have no internet service," Dave Gonzales, the museum's curator, said on MSNBC Sunday night.

Workers there also took in 54 six-toed cats, all of which were doing well, Gonzales said.

"We all hung out last night together," he said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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