LAKE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Lake County is left picking up the pieces after Irma unleashed her fury. A marina in Tavares was torn to shreds. Boats were crushed against the bank, a fuel pump was totaled. The smell of gas hang in the air.
Lake County Sheriff Peyton Grinnell said it will take a long time to recover. “This is going to be a long-term recovery. Damage assessments are still coming in,” Grinnell said, “this county is 1156 square miles. As you know, we took the brunt of the hurricane's force here, so it's too early to tell.”
North of Tavares, Umatilla was especially hard hit. The damage was widespread. Howling winds took the roof off a restaurant and left it lying on the street. Jill Bolton said she's worked there for the last two years.
“Devastation, hoping I still have a job,” Bolton said, “our customers, they love this place - it's like a hometown. So I'm hoping it's just fixable and viable.”
In another part of town, Teddy Spann had a tree cave-in his roof, and his boat knocked over.
“I've been talking about that pine tree to my wife for three days,” Spann said, “I said we're not staying in the bedroom, because I knew it would be coming from the northeast. It put it exactly where I said it was going to put it, and I'm glad I didn't stay in there.”
Thousands spent the night in shelters and tens of thousands remained without power. Sheriff Grinnell is hoping residents will be understanding, as they work to clean up.
“We're asking people to be patient, we're coming,” Grinnell said, “we have five inmate work crews out, partnered with local officials as well, public works, and we realize it's an inconvenience but we're asking people to be patient.”