Steve and Cheryl Powers, husband-and-wife team and owners of Sea Tow Key Largo, felt the wrath of Hurricane Irma firsthand. The massive Category 4 hurricane seemed to know the family’s every move as it targeted the Keys and the entire state of Florida.
Long before the hurricane came ashore, the Powers began frantic preparations. Two days of work preceded the family driving four full days to move their recovery trailer, boats, and equipment to high land in Indian Town, Fla., on the west coast of the state.
“We had to get our Sea Tow property to safety long before the storm hit,” said Cheryl Powers, co-owner of Sea Tow Key Largo. “As first responders after the storm, we needed our equipment to stay operable so we could quickly return once Irma passed and get to work.”
But as if the storm was following the family, it took an unexpected turn west and the Powers realized they would need to move all their boats and equipment from the west coast of Florida to the east coast. Without hesitation, they mobilized, with their three daughters, and got everything moved to a safe spot. They rode out the storm for what seemed like days, wondering what would be left of their home.
The day finally came when it was time to return home to Key Largo. Once on the island, it was evident that epic destruction had occurred. There weren’t even any accessible ramps left where they could safely launch their boats.
More than 48 hours later, the family was finally able to get their boats into the water and start work.
The operations were hectic, but methodical. Typical jobs that would take three hours took two days. Without cell phone service, Cheryl was forced to set up a temporary office an hour away just to take calls from members and others needing help. Steve drove almost an hour twice a day to get a log of scheduled jobs.
Prior to Irma, Sea Tow Key Largo’s main calls were for salvages, boat recoveries and dock-sinkers. The calls they received post-Irma proved to be much more difficult. There were boats in pools, boats stuck under other boats and debris in the water as far as the eye could see.
Professionally, the Powers family were tackling everything minute-by-minute, never stopping to look at the big picture because it was just too overwhelming. Personally, they are still working to rebuild, as the entire first floor of their home was a total loss.
Nearly a month later, the entire area is still recovering. They finally received internet on Oct. 4, and everyone has started down the long and arduous path to rebuild their lives.
No one is really sure how the Key Largo area will recover its tourist population, but the Powers know that Sea Tow Key Largo will be there to lend a helping hand wherever they can.