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Staying Safe After Silty Storm Surge & Sewage Issues, Thousands Lack Necessities One Week after Irma

Meals served to Florida Keys residents in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
Photo: The Red Cross
Meals served to Florida Keys residents in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

The  American Red Cross and the Salvation Army continue their relief efforts more than one week after Hurricane Irma devastated South Florida. Tens of thousands of meals are being served and emergency shelters remain open. But full recovery is still to come: both agencies say they need more volunteers, and ongoing sewage and water quality concerns are fueling concerns of a potential health crisis.

Portions of Collier and Lee Counties are seeing sewage back up into neighborhoods, thanks to a continued lack of power at waste-water pump stations. Margie Hapke with Collier County Utilities joins Gulf Coast Live to talk about the overwhelmed sewer systems and what the timeline is for all those stations to be fixed.

While waste water carries its share of contaminants and bacteria, the storm surge that flooded places like Everglades City brought in a host of other bacteria from the gulf.  We’ll talk with Andrea McKinney with the Florida Department of Health about why it’s so important to take care of open wounds promptly and keep an eye out for infection.

Catching up with the Red Cross and Salvation Army in Florida, Lori McFarlane with the Red Cross and Major Dan Proctor with the Salvation Army discuss continuing efforts to provide for resident still without power, water, and in many cases, homes. 

Plus ISA-certified arborist Ian Orlikoff with Signature Tree Care in Naples joins the program to talk about how trees in our region were stressed by the waters and wind brought by the hurricane, and how homeowners can tackle remediation efforts with an eye to healthier and more resilient replacements.

Copyright 2020 WGCU. To see more, visit WGCU.

Matthew Smith is a reporter and producer of WGCU’s Gulf Coast Live.
Julie Glenn is the host of Gulf Coast Live. She has been working in southwest Florida as a freelance writer since 2007, most recently as a regular columnist for the Naples Daily News. She began her broadcasting career in 1993 as a reporter/anchor/producer for a local CBS affiliate in Quincy, Illinois. After also working for the NBC affiliate, she decided to move to Parma, Italy where she earned her Master’s degree in communication from the University of Gastronomic Sciences. Her undergraduate degree in Mass Communication is from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.