On Sunday, September 10, 2017, Hurricane Irma made landfall on Marco Island as a category three hurricane after first taking aim at the Florida Keys.
Within a few hours, the northeast portion of the eye was getting closer to the Immokalee area.
At the time of landfall, winds were topping out between 120-130mph. Rainfall estimates at time also indicate that the area may have received over 10 inches of rain.
By Monday morning it was clear, Hurricane Irma had left its mark on Immokalee.
Flooding caused significant issues throughout town. In fact, several areas in town were cut off due to high water including parts of Little League Road, parts of New Market Road, and parts of Madison Avenue. Several side streets off of New Market Road were also impassable.
First responders were forced to conduct search and rescue operations in multiple parts of town as mobile homes were heavily damaged or destroyed.
Many of the mobile homes off of Carson Road near Westclox Street appeared to have received the most damage due to the heavy winds.
In other parts of town, fallen trees destroyed portions of roofs and downed power lines caused problems for first responders.
Days after Hurricane Irma passed through the area, local residents were left scrambling to find food and water.
Several organizations such as the Amigo Center, Meals of Hope, Harry Chapin Food Bank, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Gods Pit Crew, Lipman Produce, and Guadalupe Social Services just to name a few, came together to help fill the void as local stores were closed and assistance was no where to be found from the federal government.
By mid-week, the Florida National Guard had set up distribution points in town and by Friday, FEMA officials were in town and assisting with claims for assistance.
While it is still too early to tell what the total damage estimates are, it is clear Hurricane Irma caused significant damage in and around the area. Although the hurricane may have disrupted lives, one thing remains clear…Immokalee is resilient and its residents have learned to take care of one another in times of need.