FLORIDA KEYS — It didn’t seem bad at first. Key Largo was bright, sunny, and relatively unscathed. There were a few gas stations missing their signs and some toppled billboards. But as I continued south down the Overseas Highway on a roadtrip from Fort Lauderdale to Key West, the view outside my windshield became increasingly dire.
By the time I hit Big Pine Key, about 40 miles north of Key West, there were mountainous piles of debris at regular intervals along the side of the road. Haphazard stacks of abandoned refrigerators, mattresses, and other household goods were mixed with dead palm fronds and chopped up tree roots.
These were the remnants of hurricane Irma which tore through the Keys in September as a Category 4 hurricane. The 130 mile-an-hour winds stripped the leaves off trees and carried away roofs.