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Gov. Scott Visits Everglades City, Still Without Power

Rachel Iacovone
Gov. Rick Scott talks with the mayor of Everglades City.

Hurricane Irma made U.S. landfall more than a week ago, yet some Southwest Florida communities are still without power and running water, such as Everglades City on the southernmost tip of Collier County.

The small community is known for its airboat rides and fishing spots — and now, for taking some of the worst of Hurricane Irma’s wrath.

Governor Rick Scott stopped by Sunday afternoon to survey the damage.

Credit Rachel Iacovone / WGCU
A pile of debris lines an Everglades City road after Hurricane Irma.

"The water’s still really high here, but listening to them talk about how much had gotten into their homes — that’s how much work it’s going to be to get this stuff cleaned up," Scott said. "It’s going to be a significant issue with housing."

As the governor walked the damp and debris-lined streets of Everglades City, thousands of people in the area were still without power — and many, now, are without a home.

Credit Rachel Iacovone / WGCU
Scott speaks with a local woman, who tells him how grateful she is for his visit after she lost everything in the storm.

One of them is Jordan Mayberry. The 31-year-old mother of two spent her Sunday taking the insides of her new home — piece by piece — to the curb.

"We just finished it exactly the way we wanted it," Mayberry said. "We just put up the fence. We just put in a new pool and the garage and the backsplash and the tiles, every single thing you can walk into the house and see that’s visible to the eye."

Mayberry looks away — toward the pieces of her new fence laying across her muddy backyard. She wipes tears from her eyes.

Credit Rachel Iacovone / WGCU
The street Jordan Mayberry and her family live on in Everglades City

"It took us three years, paycheck to paycheck, getting everything exactly the way we wanted it," Mayberry said. "We just put in our plantation shutters that I picked up a seasonal job just to get."

Mayberry works as a neurological nurse at Naples Community Hospital. Her husband is a firefighter. Both of their jobs required them to work during Hurricane Irma.

After the storm, the two came home to discover the 10-foot storm surge had flooded their raised house up to the electrical outlets, destroying almost everything inside.

Credit Rachel Iacovone / WGCU
Large appliances, such as refrigerators and washing machines, are among the debris littering the sides of the roads in Everglades City.

"The first day I came in to clean everything out, I didn’t wear a mask," Mayberry said, "and just that one day of wearing no mask, it hurt to swallow that night."

Mayberry says she sees — and smells — mold growing in their home since the water receded. Her neighbors are complaining of similar respiratory issues as they clean up as well, while others are becoming severely ill in Irma’s wake.

Published reports say Everglades City resident Lee Marteeny died of respiratory failure and internal bleeding Saturday. David Curry, had his leg amputated Friday after it was critically infected by the dirty water.

Mayberry says, despite her losses, she is grateful to have her family — both her literal family and the family she’s gained since moving to Everglades City from her native Naples three years ago.

Credit Rachel Iacovone / WGCU
The layer of mud coating the sidewalk outside city hall baked and dried in the sun after Irma, cracking into makeshift tiles over the following week.

"We lost our homes, but we found humanity," Mayberry said. "Everglades City is a very close community. It’s a small town."

A complete stranger slows and calls to her and her neighbors from his car, offering to do their laundry for free.

"See what I’m saying?" Mayberry said, laughing.