Islamorada mayor says damage left by Hurricane Irma 'pretty devastating'

Mayor Jim Mooney says damage to Keys 'going to be a shock to people'

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. - The mayor of a Florida Keys municipality said the damage left behind by Hurricane Irma has "been pretty devastating."

Islamorada Mayor Jim Mooney said there is widespread damage to the popular vacation destination.

"The storm surge appears to be much greater than we expected," Mooney told Local 10 News late Sunday night during a telephone interview with Local 10 News.

Mooney said the island resorts "took a tremendous amount of water."

"We were watching waves coming into resorts," he said.

Mooney said the northbound lane of U.S. Highway 1 was washed away.

"It's pretty bad," he said.

Mooney said he didn't know of any possible injuries or deaths because of "spotty communication." He said he hasn't even been able to get in touch with his son.

The mayor said he stayed in his concrete house when Irma's eyewall approached the Keys as a Category 4 hurricane. He said his boats were destroyed by trees that fell on them, "but nothing we can't replace."

Mooney said he expects "six months solid" for people just to get halfway back to normal.

"Maybe halfway back to normal," he added.

Mooney said tourists may be in for a rude awakening when they visit the island chain.

"It's going to be a shock to people who are used to seeing lush tropical settings of the Florida Keys," he said.

Mooney said Irma "snuck over here a little bit closer to us than anticipated, but that's what hurricanes do, unfortunately."

He wasn't sure about the extent of the damage to the other islands, but he spoke briefly with Marathon's city manager, who said the marina was destroyed.

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