Locals and frequent visitors to Florida’s beaches may find their favorite spots don’t look very familiar, following the damage caused by Hurricane Irma. New footage of the beaches, released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows a drastically changed coastline, wrought with damage by the devastating tropical storm. While many of the beaches have been affected, the damage is most severe in the Florida Keys and as far north as Marco Island.
Hurricane Irma tore through the Caribbean, before making landfall in two areas in Florida on Sunday, September 10. The first landfall occurred in the early morning hours as a category 4 storm, touching down in the lower portion of the Florida Keys. Cudjoe Key received the brunt of the devastation, as the storm moved on through the rest of the keys.
Later, just south of Naples, Hurricane Irma made a second landfall on Marco Island. This is the first time, since the United States began keeping records in 1851, that two Atlantic category 4 hurricanes made landfall in the same season. While the cause of the ferocity and frequency of the storms is a matter of debate among experts, the wreckage left behind is certainly too immense to be ignored.
A NOAA aircraft, equipped with special remote sensing cameras captured aerial shots of the beaches. One such image caught a shot of Casa Marina, which is a Waldorf Astoria Resort, and the damage done to that vacation spot is extensive. The resort will likely take an extended period for cleanup, following Hurricane Irma’s visit.
NOAA plans to provide the images captured by their aircraft to assist response agencies in determining the extent of the damage. By comparing the new images with images previously taken and used as a baseline for the coastal region, they hope to gather a better perspective on how much damage was done.
“This can help maintain or restore safe navigation and prioritize areas in need. In addition, imagery is used for ongoing research efforts to test and develop new airborne digital imaging standards,” NOAA said in a publicly released statement.
Comparing the before and after photos, it’s clear to see there will be some time, before waters recede to previous levels. Even now, many areas that were once filled with green vegetation, paved roads, and rows of homes are submerged under a sea of dark brown water. Even where the water has receded, vegetation was left dying and damaged. Between immense flooding and 142 mile per hour winds, the damage wrought by Hurricane Irma may prove to be a lasting reminder.