KEY WEST, FLA. (WSVN) - Residents and visitors of Key West woke up to a flood of trouble as Hurricane Ian’s outer bands impacted the area.
The remnants of the storm were all too apparent along areas like the well-known Duval Street, Wednesday.
Trees were uprooted from the sidewalk, streets flooded from the downpour, debris on the roads and utility lines hung from electrical towers.
The National Weather Service issued a storm surge warning around midnight and will be in effect until Thursday.
Local firefighter Tom Bellingham got on the roads early to check his home and survey the damage in the area.
“I’ve been going around making sure everyone is OK. Now I’ll be heading to the fire station,” said Bellingham.
He arrived to work as soon as the sun came up and responded to a reported fire at a local small business along Duval Street; crews also responded to a major fire on Flagler Avenue.
Witnesses told 7News that dozens of apartments were destroyed in the fire.
As if the winds and rain wasn’t enough, many woke up to flames and thick smoke.
“You could see the flames over the palm trees, and you can also see the palm trees going crazy because it’s in the middle of the storm,” said Barby Beck, who lives nearby. “The firefighters came out in the middle of the storm and stopped it from spreading further.”
As of 6:30 p.m., fire crews were still working to put out the fire in the building.
It remains unknown if the fire was created by Hurricane Ian or not.
Across Key West, the clean up from Ian was underway.
“We got 100 mph winds in here,” said Reef Perkins. “If there had been another 30 miles this way, you wouldn’t have been standing there.”
The U.S. Coast Guard flew over the Keys assessing the damage that was left behind.
The hurricane came within 60 miles of the island.
The Coast Guard also shared a video and said they helped seven different people who called for help during the storm.
Meanwhile, locals got out to see the aftermath of the tropical weather for themselves, as many woke up without power or cell service across the city.
“I got my wife and six kids,” said Cartwright, a resident of Key West.
As he figured out what was next for his family, he said he remembered all too well the impact of Hurricane Andrew from August of 1992. Cartwright said this storm surge was something different.
“I’m still traumatized from Andrew, but you know, it’s a lot of water out here right now,” said Cartwright. “A lot of people’s houses, you know, got water in them and stuff. The surge, it was bad.”
Joanna and her significant other visited the Keys from Tulsa, Oklahoma on their honeymoon; they recounted their terrifying ordeal from the night before while trying to save a man from flood waters.
“He decides he wants to go out there, so we tried to follow him,” said Joanna. “After that, it got so hectic, we slipped so many times in the water, I mean it was like waist-high at this point.”
James Jarrett was on a business trip and now his hotel is without power.
“It really wasn’t too bad until about midnight. That’s when the power went out,” said Jarrett. “About 2:30 a.m., we’ve been without power since then.”
Many were thankful they had been spared the wrath of Hurricane Ian.
“This storm was a big deal. I don’t know if people thought it was going to be or not,” said Beck.
As Key West worked to pick up the pieces, county officials urged everyone to stay safe and off the roads.
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