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IMMOKALEE, Fla. (CNS) -- Peter Routsis-Arroyo, the CEO of the Diocese of Venice's Catholic Charities, said Hurricane Irma has brought normal life to a standstill in the entire Southwest Florida region.
While a large percentage of the population of towns from Marco Island to Naples to Sarasota and Venice had evacuated the state altogether, Routsis-Arroyo is putting a special focus on the fragile, year-round migrant worker communities throughout the area.
Almost immediately after the hurricane made landfall as a Category 4 storm in the Florida Keys in the state's southernmost tip and exited the state's northern border with Georgia, leaving a statewide trail of damage and flooding, Routsis-Arroyo was in his car touring some of the interior agricultural towns of Immokalee and Arcadia, where Catholic Charities operates services for the extensive farm worker communities there.
Standing water in many communities of Southwest Florida will need to recede before Knights of Columbus emergency deliveries and disaster response programming can get underway, said Routsis-Arroyo, who is himself a Knight of Columbus. He was anticipating a first truckload of emergency aid to come down from Gainesville.