Cleanup Underway In Miami

Sep 13, 2017
Originally published on September 13, 2017 8:05 am
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Cleaning up after Hurricane Irma is going to be a long process. The storm left more than half of Florida without power. Recovery is already underway, though, in the state's biggest metro area. That would be Miami, and that is where NPR's Martin Kaste is.

Good morning, Martin.

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: Good morning.

KELLY: Tell us what's leapt out at you as you watch people out and about, and trying to return to something like normal.

KASTE: Well, I think what you see is a city that's starting to sort of have its pace of everyday life quicken. You know, there's more traffic. People are tackling the long list of to-do's to try to restore things to some semblance of normalcy. And it's amazing, actually, how easily you can get around parts of town now.

I was in Little Havana yesterday, and all the debris was already piled up on the roadside - neat little piles of, you know, fallen limbs and other things that have been cluttering up the road just a day before. There were a couple boys out with a table on the roadside, selling avocados two to a dollar. These were avocados that blew off a tree. I was talking to their dad, Manny Castro. He said this was kind of little entrepreneurial project for them, to sell these downed avocados.

MANNY CASTRO: All the avocados that were on the tree went down, so there's buckets still in the house that we didn't bring, so. And they've been selling them, and they sell them all. I mean, there's only about - what? - five avocados left at all.

KASTE: And buckets - buckets of avocados, he says. And that's just a little sign of sort of normalcy. I should add that the boys who were selling their wares underneath the destroyed sign for their father's business, which is, fittingly enough, an insurance agency.

KELLY: An insurance agency - gosh, that's like a whole little short story right there. (Laughter) Wow. What - let me turn you toward the questions about electricity. How many people still can't turn on their lights in Miami?

KASTE: Well, the numbers are still pretty big. I'd say roughly half. It's changing all the time. There are crews from out of town here helping out. I was in one of the worst-hit neighborhoods, Coral Gables - lots of trees, lots of downed trees. You can't even get through some of the streets.

You know, I was talking to one family. They're just kind of sweltering there in their house, hoping for power soon. They actually send their kids out to the car sometimes to watch movies in the air conditioning of the car. And as I was talking to them, the - one of the pickup trucks for a Detroit power company came down the street and the neighborhood - neighbors just kind of ran out as though it was an ice cream truck.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: God bless you.

GERARD HOOVAR: No problem.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Welcome to Miami.

HOOVAR: We're glad to help you guys. We're going to try as hard as we can.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: We really appreciate it.

HOOVAR: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: When do you think we'll get power back? My dad wanted to know - like, this area.

HOOVAR: I'm going to say maybe by tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: OK.

HOOVAR: OK?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Yay.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Yes, yes, yes.

KASTE: And I should say that was Gerard Hoovar (ph) from Detroit. And you know, he - they started driving down here during - while the storm was still raging.

KELLY: Wow, so the Detroit power guy as hero today in the streets - the streets of Miami. What about, you know, other aspects? Like, is there - do people feel safe in Miami? We have seen some reports of looting.

KASTE: Yeah, some reports of looting - the police were talking about that. I wouldn't say the crime rate is up, but we don't have any numbers. But, you know, there are a lot of people missing here, still - a lot of people who are out here. But there is sort of a sense of creepiness at night when the - you know, the sun goes down. It's dark. Only the police car rolls by. That's the only light you see. So people are really hoping for that sense of just the reassurance of power being on, for one thing.

KELLY: That's NPR's Martin Kaste reporting on efforts to get life back on track in Miami. Thanks, Martin.

KASTE: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.