Riverside residents hit hard by Irma

Many homes, buildings condemned in historic district

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Riverside was among the areas hardest hit in northeast Florida by Hurricane Irma.

The historic neighborhood had the highest storm surge in history, leaving dozens of people out of their homes.

Irma put some people in a really bad situation. The damage stretches for miles along the river and several blocks inland. Riverside residents know they have a long road ahead of them.

Hours after the worst of it, waves continued to crash into waterfront apartments in Riverside.

"The river looked like the Atlantic Ocean," said John Watson. "There were 8 foot waves out there!"

Watson and his son rode it out in the second floor stairwell. 

"We slept right here in this little stairwell," Watson said."There were three of us up here. I'm not gonna do it again. We didn't think it was gonna be this bad or we would not have stayed."

The power of this storm was very real for those along the river. Water rose to three feet high in one of Watson's rooms. Storm surge smashed through homes.

"These windows here are gone," Watson said. "So the waves were crashing and over that seawall coming into here."

Drone video shows some homes that took the brunt of the damage. Residents said they lost just about everything.

Angel Marquez rode the storm out in his home. Irma left the floor has buckled. The foundation is cracked.

"The waves hitting the building felt like a dump truck backing up," Marquez said. "Hitting the wall. Hitting the wall. Over and over for a couple hours. The unit to the left was destroyed. The unit to the right was destroyed. Ours was salvaged and we almost feel blessed."

Now he’s willing to help those who were less fortunate.

Cleanup is well underway in Riverside. Many of the areas have power back on. Several of the homes that were hit the hardest have been condemned by the city and it’s possible they may have to be torn down.

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