Hurricane Irma is a saga of recovery efforts

Weeks After Hurricane Ian, Hundreds of Floridians Remain in Shelters

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Updated at 6:20 p.m. ET

As the death toll from Hurricane Irma’s onslaught continues to grow, and the scope of the storm’s damage becomes clearer with every passing day, residents who have escaped the storm’s fury are still struggling to recover and begin to rebuild.

“The problem we are facing is the vast majority of people who have lost their homes are in shelters, and they’re going to have to wait a while to find a home,” explained Dr. David H. Gross, emergency room director at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Hospitals are still caring for thousands of people who were flooded by the storm, including more than 1,000 who were airlifted to Vanderbilt from areas near the coast.

“But that’s not going to begin to deal with the problem. Not yet. So we have other areas that are going to have to come up in order to serve the need. We just need to be quick about it,” Gross added. “And I hope that the federal government is making that effort.”

On Monday, just as Irma was moving to the Caribbean and leaving Florida to the mercy of its powerful winds, President Trump signed an emergency declaration for Florida. But even as he visited the island for hurricane relief efforts and signed the order to extend federal disaster protection money to the state, he said that federal assistance would come later, after recovery efforts.

“I’m going to go in, and that will be up to the president. I’ll do the signing, but there’s no timeline,” he said. “But we’ve got the money ready, and we’re going to do the same thing as you guys have been doing.”

As Irma’s final death toll rose by the day, Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott announced at a news conference that the death toll would climb over 1,800. But after Irma’s wind and storm surge tore through Florida’s Caribbean coast

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