KEY WEST, Fla. (WAVY) — A member of the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office is in the Florida Keys, pitching in on the cleanup effort following Hurricane Irma.
The powerful storm devastated Florida, forcing evacuations, leaving millions without power and destroying numerous buildings and homes.
The sheriff’s office said on Facebook Tuesday that Auxiliary Deputy Jason Patch drove down there with two pallets of bottled water, chains saws and a four-wheeler.
“Basically it looks like a war zone,” says Deputy Patch. “That’s basically what it looks like a complete war zone.”
Even before Irma hit the Florida Keys Patch had his mind made up.
“I knew these people needed help down here and I figured I have the resources and equipment to do it so I came down here and helped,” Patch adds.
Photos: Deputy Patch Helps in Key West
The trip Patch funded himself, according to the sheriff’s office. Patch loaded up his truck and trailer with supplies. He brought water, three chain saws and a four wheeler and made the 22 hour drive. No one knew he was coming, but they are glad he did.
“The police department was shocked that someone out of the blue popped up offering resources and equipment that they needed,” Patch says.
NOTE: Key West police shared a thank you message on Facebook Wednesday, one day after this story aired.
For four days and 12 hour shifts, Patch has worked side by side with Key West police. They’ve been clearing out debris and making sure there aren’t victims still in homes. The photos he has snapped along the way show complete devastation.
“We’ve got 30-40 foot boats in the middle of the street,” Patch adds. “We have got boats on top of houses. Everything just is destroyed down here.”
From what he sees the need is great and things won’t get back to normal anytime soon.
“I’d say months,” Patch says. “I think some of the keys it is going to be years before they recover.”
As other storms loom in the Atlantic there could be other areas in great danger. Patch says there will be other victims, but he doesn’t want anyone to forgot about those who have already lost everything they own.
“I’ve seen other storms before and tornadoes in Hampton Roads, but this is the worst I’ve ever seen,” Patch adds.
Patch tells 10 On Your Side he plans to say in the Keys until the weekend.