One Week After Irma, Floridians Pick Up The Pieces One week after Hurricane Irma slammed Florida, residents of Collier County are in the early stages of the recovery process.
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One Week After Irma, Floridians Pick Up The Pieces

Debris lines a street near the beach in Naples, Fla. the day after Irma made landfall. Meredith Rizzo/NPR hide caption

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Debris lines a street near the beach in Naples, Fla. the day after Irma made landfall.

Meredith Rizzo/NPR

It's been one week since Hurricane Irma hit Southwestern Florida. Residents in Collier County, where the storm made landfall after the Florida keys, are in the early stages of the recovery process still cleaning up debris, wading through floodwaters, struggling to get gas, and trying to get by without electricity. It will take months to fully assess the damage, and the rebuilding process could take years. Yet already they are looking ahead to the next steps. They are figuring out how to continue with their lives amidst the devastation.

Immokalee, Fla.

In the agricultural community of Immokalee, about 50 miles east of Naples, Olga Garza, shuffled through water surrounding her house. She's lived there for 37 years, and this is only the second time it's flooded. The first was when Hurricane Harvey hit. The entire property is covered in at least six inches of water.

Fernando Rivera helps out his wife's grandparents after their home flooded during the storm. Initially the water level started to fall, but Rivera says it has stopped receding. Meredith Rizzo/NPR hide caption

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Fernando Rivera helps out his wife's grandparents after their home flooded during the storm. Initially the water level started to fall, but Rivera says it has stopped receding.

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"It's not draining. It's just standing here," she says. "And you can smell it."

She said she's called the county and no one has responded.

Her granddaughter's husband, Fernando Rivera, helped wheel a grill out to cook dinner.

"We don't want the kids to get near [the water]," he says. "Especially after a hurricane, you don't know what's in it."

Ray Gonzalez says that although the aluminum roof of their produce warehouse was boarded up, they still sustained damage. Meredith Rizzo/NPR hide caption

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Near the Immokalee Farmer's Market, Ray Gonzalez looks up at the damaged aluminum roof of the produce stall in which he's standing. He says they had boarded up the roof prior to the storm but it wasn't enough.

Other residents are waiting for electricity to come back on so they can cook, like Sixta Vidaurri and her granddaughter Amree Vidaurri.

Sixta Vidaurri and her granddaughter Amree Vidaurri stand outside their home. They couldn't cook without power and many of the grocery stores in town were still shuttered, two days after the storm. Meredith Rizzo/NPR hide caption

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Sixta Vidaurri and her granddaughter Amree Vidaurri stand outside their home. They couldn't cook without power and many of the grocery stores in town were still shuttered, two days after the storm.

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Standing outside his home, Alfonso Garza gestures to the debris in his yard. He says he isn't physically capable of moving it, and hopes someone will come to clear it.

Alfonso Garza (no relationship to Olga Garza), 70, stayed in a shelter during the storm. He returned to flooding in his house and debris which he couldn't clean up. Meredith RIzzo/NPR hide caption

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Alfonso Garza (no relationship to Olga Garza), 70, stayed in a shelter during the storm. He returned to flooding in his house and debris which he couldn't clean up.

Meredith RIzzo/NPR

Ft Myers, Fla.

On Wednesday, a seasonally warm day, Shelia Lunsford, who moved to Florida three years ago from Alabama, was raking up debris in the heat at the Woodsmoke Camping Resort in Fort Myers. The RV and mobile home park had dodged the worst of the damage, but behind her an uprooted tree sat on top of a neighbor's parked car.

Shelia Lunsford is a year-round resident at Woodsmoke Camping Resort. She says many residents are snowbirds who want to know what happened to their property during the storm. Meredith Rizzo/NPR hide caption

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Shelia Lunsford is a year-round resident at Woodsmoke Camping Resort. She says many residents are snowbirds who want to know what happened to their property during the storm.

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"We're doing the best we can to get cleaned up," she said.

Many of the park's snowbirds won't return to Florida until at least October. So Lunsford has been photographing properties to send to absent neighbors.

"They're freaking out," she said. "It's helping them tremendously to see that there's damage or no damage."

Naples, Fla.

Naples resident Matthew Delagado, 26, says they were lucky the storm surge wasn't higher, but there's still a lot of cleanup to do. He walked down to Naples beach with friends to check on their families' homes. Meredith Rizzo/NPR hide caption

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Naples resident Matthew Delagado, 26, says they were lucky the storm surge wasn't higher, but there's still a lot of cleanup to do. He walked down to Naples beach with friends to check on their families' homes.

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In Naples, broken tree limbs lined the streets of upscale beach neighborhoods. The day after the storm, Matthew Delgado, 26, who grew up in Naples, walked down with two friends who were checking on family homes. He said he planned to spend all week cleaning up the neighborhood.

"Now the real work begins."

People take photos on the beach in Naples the day after Irma hit. Meredith Rizzo/NPR hide caption

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People take photos on the beach in Naples the day after Irma hit.

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