Highlands County residents facing 'desperate situation' after Irma

Posted at 7:09 PM, Sep 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-13 19:09:02-04

People in Highlands County say they are finding themselves in a desperate situation following Hurricane Irma.

More than 53,000 people in Highlands County are waiting for power to return, according to Duke Energy. That is the majority of the county.

Residents are also running desperately low on water and ice, said the Highland's County Sheriff's Office.

ABC Action News was there as gas stations had lines 70 cars deep waiting for fuel.

One woman we spoke with had been in line for three hours waiting for gas along US 98 in Sebring.

"It would have been nice if they had had some Port-a-potties along the way," she said.

A Highlands County Sheriff's deputy said many of the gas stations do not have power or access to a generator, and therefore cannot get their pumps up and running.

Another driver said the situation is growing increasingly difficult for many residents, including hundreds of elderly and disabled in the community.

"It's pretty bad," she said. "I feel very blessed that we didn't have more damage where we are because there are a lot of people who are worse than I am."

People at the Lowe's store in Sebring waited hours on just the possibility of getting a generator. Temperatures in Highlands County were around 90 degrees on Wednesday.

"It's kind of a low-income area anyways and they're not even looking at the price," said Krzysztof Rogowski, store manager.

He said he's seen people wait to get money wired to them from friends and family across the country.

In the meantime, many Highlands County residents are still displaced from their homes. Many had serious damage, including damaged roofs, trees down and damage from flying debris.

It's still unclear when more fuel will be delivered to the area and power will be restored.