Former Richmond couple unsure of damage to home in Florida Keys

RICHMOND, Va. -- The River City is the place Bud Myers used to call home. His heart is now in the Florida Keys, where he and his wife, Carol, have spent most of their retirement years.

"It's so different, so beautiful," Myers said. "There's just a sense of calmness you get there."

That calmness turned to chaos over the weekend, when Hurricane Irma slammed into the 113-mile stretch of coral and limestone islands connected by 42 bridges.

The storm surge in Key Largo, where the Myers calls home, reached five to six feet.

Myers said he's unsure of the complete devastation caused to his home. The family plans to return home on Tuesday, when residents can begin returning through Islamorada.

Bud Myers

The island is currently without water, electricity or cell phone service.

"As of right now, we know there's about five feet of water that's in our place," Myers said. "We're waiting to get there to try and find out what other damage there could be."

While friends have been unable to reach Bud and Carol's home because of downed trees and flooding, residents are sending videos of areas close by, including Islamorada, where several ocean front restaurants, hotels and homes have been damaged or decimated.

One video shows a popular restaurant and bar where the Myers loved to hang out.

"When we saw the video, it was like a friend died," Myers said. "It's like a tornado. It looks like someone literally came and swept it up and took it out."

The Myers are also desperate to get back to help with recovery efforts and animal rescue. Carol Myers owns a company called "Key Largo Pet Center," and is actively involved in animal rescue.

"Hundreds of animals are abandoned there," Myers said. "We've seen terrible pictures of some of the animals that have already been swept away."

The Myers, along with neighbors, are working to set up a donation center to help displaced families.

They hope to have a website set up and running by later this week.

While the devastation is disheartening, Myers said he's confident the Keys will thrive once again.

"I don't know how much still stands," Myers said. "I know the conch feeling is the replace it and rebuilt and to go back as soon as possible."