Hurricane Irma has left around 12 million in Florida without power. Doubling our problems, over 82,000 in Brevard County were left without running water after the storm caused multiple water line breaks. The water problems were discovered the morning of September 11. A few of the breaks occurred when sections of road collapsed along Indian River Drive and Sunset Terrace as well as at U.S. 1 and Gus Hipp Boulevard. Monday Officials stated it could be 1-2 days until water is restored to residents, but also advise it could be 3-5 days until it is safe to drink without boiling it first. Residents should be cautious and boil any water they get out of the faucets until, as Cocoa City Manager John Titkanich stated, “the city says ‘don’t boil your water.’”
Picking Up Pieces After Irma
As of the evening of September 12, the City of Cocoa released a statement that they “suspect a water line break on 520 and it is most likely under the river which would explain why we haven’t found the big break.” This would be why residents south of 520 in Cocoa Beach and Patrick Air Force Base are still without running water, and why the water pressure remained low in other areas. After they fix the breaks, which they hope to have completed within the next couple days, they will begin testing and treating the water to make sure it is okay to consume.
Brevard County Emergency Management informed residents that causeways were safe to reenter Cocoa Beach around 10 a.m. on Monday, September 11. They were actively answering people’s questions through Facebook. Coming home a couple hours later was an eerie experience. Not a lot of people were out, so most of the damage was where the storm had left it. Traffic lights were dangling on the side of A1A near Patrick Air Force Base.
A Brevard Public works truck had begun repairing another intersection between Patrick and South Cocoa Beach. Standing water lined the road. The Chevron on the south end of Orlando Ave. lost most of the roofing over their gas pumps – only a few months after having it repaired from how it was destroyed last year during Matthew.
There were a down power lines along Orlando Ave. and Brevard Ave. Most street signs were either knocked down or heavily leaning. Limbs from trees were scattered everywhere, some palms were pulled down with their roots exposed, and resilient Spanish pines looked battered and frail. Ramp Road Park’s dock still had a section underwater due to the high water level of the Banana River.
Businesses throughout the town took damage in different ways. Surf Break Car Wash lost most of their roof. Sea Aire Motel sustained a lot of damage. The Cocoa Beach Police Station and City Hall lost part of their roof; remnants could be seen down Minutemen. Outside the Fire Department was standing water from where the roads had flooded.
The Welcome to Cape Canaveral sign was destroyed, yet businesses were open Monday to help the community. Yogis, despite having part of their roof in the parking lot, and the Mobil in Cape Canaveral were open for cash customers. Chevron on the north side of Cocoa Beach where the split in the road begins was open as well. Sunoco in Cocoa Beach had gas for those paying with a card.
Neighbors were helping neighbors clean up their yard, prop up fences, or sharing use of their generators or electricity if they were lucky enough to regain it after a short period of time. People with water were offering their showers to those without. Irma may have eroded our beaches, but, like the sea oats, our community has a strong heart for coming together in times of crisis.
There is a lot of work that needs to be done, especially as we keep an eye on Jose, but life will go on. And, hey, at least there are waves.