Post-Irma recovery grinds ahead in the Keys

Six food-and-water distribution centers have opened, and 100 portable restrooms have been installed at every mile marker along U.S. 1

Sep.September 16, 2017 12:15 PM

Gov. Rick Scott met Friday in the Florida Keys with other state officials to help Monroe County recover from Hurricane Irma.

Gov. Rick Scott met Friday in the Florida Keys with heads of state agencies to discuss how to help battered Monroe County reopen to its residents quickly in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

Government aid to help Keys residents recover from Irma include the establishment of six food-and-water distribution centers countywide and the installation of 100 portable restrooms at every mile marker along U.S. Highway 1.

Monroe County authorities are allowing residents who evacuated the Florida Keys to return in stages as roads are cleared and bridges are inspected. Residents of the upper Keys began returning to their homes Wednesday.

Hurricane Irma made landfall Sunday on Cudjoe Key as a Category 4 storm, leaving broken power lines and thousands of damaged and destroyed homes in its wake.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that Hurricane Irma destroyed a quarter of the homes in Monroe County.

“Residents of the Florida Keys need to be able to return to their normal lives,” Gov. Scott said.

Life in there is far from normal now. Two electric utilities serving the Florida Keys have a combined total of about 34,000 customers without power.

According to Keys Electric, 80 percent of its customers are without power in the Lower Keys from Key West to the southern end of the Seven Mile Bridge.

In the Upper Keys, 28 percent of the customers of Keys Electric Cooperative are still enduring power outages.

A boil-water notice applies to the entire Florida Keys.

The Port of Key West remains closed to all boat traffic because sunken vessels are still blocking the main channel.

But the recovery of the Keys is progressing on several fronts. The Florida National Guard has cleared roads, set up six food-and-water distribution centers throughout Monroe County and has flown aircraft from Opa-locka Executive Airport in Miami-Dade County to deliver supplies to Keys residents in need.

Mariners Hospital in Tavernier has opened its emergency room, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has supported the establishment of a medical care center at Marathon City Hall.

Publix and Winn-Dixie have reopened stores with limited hours in Key Largo. Gas stations also have started to reopen, mainly in the Upper Keys. Gas stations open as of Friday morning included the Marlin at mile marker 88, the Valero at mile marker 92 and the Circle K at mile marker 102.

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