Florida Keys described as a war zone (pics and videos)

On Sunday, Hurricane Irma battered the Florida Keys, prompting the preparation of a huge airborne relief mission that is getting ready to head to the area to assist Floridians impacted by the devastation.

When Irma’s powerful eye landed in the Keys as a Category 4 hurricane Sunday morning, it destroyed roadways and isolated residents who did not evacuate as suggested. Swelling waterways are at an estimated 10 to 15 feet in some areas, according to CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano.

Monroe County Emergency Management Director Martin Senterfitt said the situation is a “humanitarian crisis.”

According to CBS Miami reporter David Sutta, who described Irma’s after-effects in a Monday Twitter post, the scene resembles a war zone (see pictures and videos below).

“It’s hard to describe lower keys right now,” he wrote. “Best word I could say is war zone. People are walking to find family and friends. No one knows”

The airborne relief effort is being coordinated by local, state and federal authorities. They’re taking in supplies and personnel, including “disaster mortuary teams,” according to Senterfitt. Reports say crews plan to go from house to house in the Keys, searching for residents in need of help.

Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastes reportedly told CBS Miami: “We’ll get some water to them, as far as the drinking water.”

Gastes said he’s confident the community will recover and rebuild. “The keys are a very resilient community. We’ll be fine. This is the cost of living in paradise.”

Governor Rick Scott has announced his intention to join members of the U.S. Coast Guard for an aerial tour Monday afternoon, in order to assess the damage.

The National Weather Service’s Bill South believes the hardest hit areas will be between Big Coppitt Key and Marathon, with the brunt focused on the island of Big Pine. Reportedly, the road to Big Pine has washed out and is littered with debris, isolating it.

Irma, now a tropical storm, has left more than 7 million homes and businesses without power in several states, the latest reports now say. Authorities have worked tirelessly to keep residents safe before, during and after the hurricane made landfall Sunday.

In one heartwarming picture, an officer and his K-9 companion took a break to get some much-needed rest. The image of the two service providers resting together was tweeted out by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, with the caption: “#FLPD #WeAreInThisTogether #HurricaneIrma.”

The devastation in the Florida Keyes can be seen in the photos and videos below:

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