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Key West City Commissioner rides out Irma from Chattanooga

Key West City Commissioner Jimmy Weekley has family in Chattanooga and decided to ride out Irma from the scenic city. His son got married in Atlanta Saturday and after, he drove to Chattanooga. (Image: Rob Schulten)

Many Florida evacuees traveled to Chattanooga to avoid Irma. One person staying in the Scenic City is Key West City Commissioner Jimmy Weekley. Officials put Key West under a mandatory evacuation before Irma hit.

Jimmy Weekley got to Chattanooga Sunday. He was going to stay in Atlanta, but decided Chattanooga was the best place to bunker down. It was a long journey getting to Chattanooga.

Saturday, Weekely's son was supposed to get married at home in Key West - and he told the couple - they'd have to postpone because of Irma.

"They said no - we're going to get married on Saturday September 9th - regardless of any storms," said Jimmy Weekley.

In just three days, Weekley says a relative planned a beautiful wedding in Atlanta. But plans changed after the ceremony.

"When we heard they were going to have some weather issues in Atlanta - said well we will just head over to Chattanooga and spend time with the grandchildren," said Weekley.

Weekely's other son and five grand children live in Chattanooga. He says after what his hometown went through, the rain that hit Chattanooga Monday wasn't a big deal. But he worries about the people still in Key West. Despite the mandatory evacuation, he says between 3,000 and 4,000 stayed on Key West.

"There isn't any power," said Weekley. "There isn't any water. The sewer treatment plant went down. There's very little food and fuel."

But Weekley says Irma didn't hit his hometown as badly as it did nearby cities like Marathon and Cudjoe Key. He says damage to homes was minimal, but there were some businesses and apartment buildings that lost their roofs in the storm.

"We only had around two - maybe three feet of storm surge - not as much as they were predicting," said Weekley.

Weekley says FEMA will pick up almost all the costs for repair and clean up. The Red Cross will deliver food and water as soon as they have access.

"Key West will in fact bounce back," said Weekley. '"We're known as conch. Conch is a shellfish that is very tough. And that's who we are."

Monday, Florida Governor Rick Scott said the Keys are closed to the public until they can check on the bridges that connect the islands.

Governor Scott spoke about the damage there in a news conference.

"The positive was on the west coast you didn't see as much storm damage as what we thought," said Governor Rick Scott. "The negative is if you're in the Keys, you've seen the pictures. The trailer parks, I mean it's like everybody just tipped everything over. You just pray that everybody's alive."

Emergency management officials say about 25 percent of homes in the Keys were destroyed.


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