(WSVN) - Hurricane season starts tomorrow. But parts of the Florida Keys still look like Hurricane Irma just hit. 7’s Brian Entin shows us the recovery effort is nowhere near finished.
Keys Ad: “Together, we’ve picked up the pieces. And we’re getting back to business.”
This Florida Keys TV ad is called Open for Business.
But drive off the main drag in Big Pine Key — and not much has changed since Hurricane Irma hit nine months ago.
Many of the houses are badly damaged and empty.
The people who lived here are now in FEMA trailer camps like this one.
Sharon Baron, living in FEMA trailer: “I feel like we’re the bastard child of Florida. Because we have seem to have been forgotten.”
Sharon is a retired pre-school teacher. Her husband Terry worked in a steel factory. They lost everything and now live in this small FEMA trailer.
Terry Baron, living in FEMA trailer: “It’s just so overwhelming trying to figure out what your next step is.”
Sharon and Terry took us to the place they used to call home…
Terry Baron: “To see it so sparse and all the devastation. It is hard to wrap my mind around it now.”
It’s a two block walk they make twice a day.
Terry Baron: “This is the place.”
It doesn’t look so bad on the outside, but Irma’s storm surge flooded the entire inside.
Terry Baron: “The waterline is there, so you know everything below that submerged with flood water.”
Like 1,200 other families in the Keys, their home is a total loss.
They can’t afford to rebuild. And can’t afford rent somewhere else.
Sharon Baron: “Well, you don’t sleep at night. I know that. I know I don’t.”
Finding affordable housing continues to be one of the biggest problems in the Keys since Hurricane Irma. But there is some hope on the horizon. Non-profits like the Florida Keys Community Land Trust are buying up lots like these and building houses up off the ground. The plan is to rent them out at affordable prices.
But construction is just now beginning.
And there’s not enough homes planned for all the people living in these FEMA trailers.
Commissioner George Neugent, Monroe County: “Some of the hardest hit areas, they’re still 12 to 18 months before they get back online.”
For the couple who lived in this Big Pine Key house, the stress of recovering from Irma was just too much.
Their house was totaled and they were living in this travel trailer when the husband shot and killed his wife before turning the gun on himself. Detectives say they were dealing with the stress of the hurricane.
Lynn Ackiss, neighbor: “Everyone in the neighborhood knew Les and Arlene. And I think everyone’s heart was broken the night that the incident occurred.”
Nine months since Irma … a new hurricane season is here and Keys residents are still dealing with so many unknowns.
Terry Baron: “To the people who drive through here to Key West for vacation time, they probably don’t even realize.”
The Keys might be back open.
But the lives of the people who live off the overseas highway are nowhere near back to normal.
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