Hurricane Irma

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Almost two years ago, Hurricane Irma destroyed or did major damage to more than 4,000 homes in the Florida Keys. It also devastated many hotels, especially in the Middle and Upper Keys.

Miami Herald archives

As the planet heats up, polar ice melts, seas rise and Biblical-size rains become more frequent, hurricanes are expected to get wetter and more intense.

But less certain is how much climate change is making these fierce storms, which target Florida more than any other U.S. state, more punishing now.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

Rebuild Florida is a state program that helps people whose homes were severely damaged in Hurricane Irma. The program is also aimed at removing some homes in harm's way .

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

In September 2017, Hurricane Irma destroyed or majorly damaged more than 7 percent of the homes in the Keys. A lot of those were ground level and mobile homes — what passes for affordable housing on the island chain.

On Thursday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis came to Marathon to announce a new state program that will provide $140 million for affordable workforce housing.

DAVID SANTIAGO / MIAMI HERALD

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday announced that Rebuild Florida will launch a workforce housing construction program statewide with $140 million. The Florida Keys will receive $35 million.

Also, state administrators said Monroe County by next week will receive $21 million in FEMA reimbursement for debris removal for Hurricane Irma cleanup. Irma swept through the Keys in September 2017. Debris removal cost the county $30 million.

DeSantis visited Marathon on Thursday to make the announcements. It was his second visit to the Keys in two months.

Jenny Staletovich

A pair of Miami architects who infuriated neighbors and drew the scrutiny of county environmental regulators when they chopped down mangroves at their waterfront property in the wake of Hurricane Irma have sold the lot for more than double what they paid.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

Hurricane Irma was at Category 4 strength when it crossed the Florida Keys in September of 2017. And the Keys are still in the rebuilding process, even as a new hurricane season starts.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Caitie Switalski / WLRN

Weather officials have been able to reduce forecasting errors for a hurricane's track, including its "cone of uncertainty," in the last 20 years. But more research is needed to better predict how intense a storm will be.

That's according to National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham, who spoke on a panel Thursday at the Broward County Emergency Operations Center in Plantation. 

Courtesy Purpose in Paradise

The U.S. Virgin Islands are finally rebounding after suffering two major hurricanes back-to-back. One tourism innovation may have played a part in that.

Cammy Clark / Monroe County

A $7.9 million project to upgrade a county park on Stock Island was a couple weeks out from completion when Hurricane Irma tore across the Lower Keys in September 2017.

The damage caused by the hurricane extended that work for almost a year, but the project was completed and Monroe County held a ribbon-cutting last August.

Now the Monroe County clerk has issued an audit report on the project. Among the conclusions:

Madeline Fox / WLRN

For residents of one West Palm Beach neighborhood, some ground-shuddering repetitive banging is a small price to pay for power that stays on even during high winds.

The residents of Bradley Court are in the midst of a Florida Power and Light project to bring their power lines underground, where tree-toppling gusts have a slimmer chance of shutting off the lights.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Four Keys cities and Monroe County have sent FEMA bills for more than $91 million from Hurricane Irma. A year and a half after the storm, they have received less than 12 percent of the money.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

After Hurricane Irma slammed the Florida Keys in September of 2017, lots of volunteers came to help with clean up. Almost a year and a half later, there's still work to do repairing homes, and volunteers who want to help.

The challenge has been finding them a place to stay.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

In the Florida Keys, the challenges of finding an affordable place to live were made much worse after Hurricane Irma destroyed or severely damaged thousands of homes in September 2017.

A number of nonprofits and faith groups came in to help after the storm. One church in Marathon was already there — and is taking a big step in providing housing for people in the Keys who lost their homes.

Post-Irma Rebuilding Program Extends Its Deadline

Dec 26, 2018
CARL JUSTE / MIAMI HERALD STAFF

The federally funded program offered through the state to help Hurricane Irma victims rebuild has extended its deadline.

Rebuild Florida, run by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, is now giving homeowners until March 29 to register.

In its first phase, $50 million is reserved for Monroe County homeowners to rebuild, repair or elevate their homes due to damage or destruction caused by Irma, which struck Sept. 10, 2017.

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