The Palm Beach Post reports:
As life returns to a small semblance of normal in the Upper Keys, normal is still far off for residents living in the Middle and Lower Keys, where the usually raucous town of Key West was boarded up and shut down. The Marathon Airport took on the look of a disaster on foreign soil as the U.S. Army choppered in with relief supplies for the fragile islands slammed with Hurricane Irma’s 130 mph winds Sunday morning.
Throughout the lower Keys, newer houses on stilts, built to stricter codes in the last few decades, seemed to have little damage, even on hardest-hit Cudjoe Key. There, DEA agents unloaded blue tarps from unmarked vans in front of a house with a damaged roof. “We’re taking care of the first responders’ homes while they take care of everyone else,” said one agent, who declined to give his name.
Key West was a sonambulent shade of its usual boisterous self. Duval Street was a ghost town, including Ernest Hemingway’s favorite watering holes, Sloppy Joe’s and Captain Tony’s. Most of the city had no power, although it had come on at Ibis Bay Resort at the city’s entrance, only to go off again 12 hours later.
At a shopping center on North Roosevelt Boulevard, Army servicemen and Marines handed out water and food. Each family received a 24-pack of drinking water and four boxes of dried rations for each family member in a town where grocery stores and ATMs remain powerless and closed.
From Monroe County Emergency Services:
Re-entry is still limited to residents and business owners in the Upper Keys, to mile marker 73 and only during non-curfew hours. Work is being done as quickly as possible to make it safe enough to open the rest of the Keys to re-entry.
Please be patient. Marathon to Key West still is unsafe to return. There is limited water, food, power, fuel, sewer and medical services. “We know people are anxious to return but we can’t put an artificial timeline on when it will be safe to return,” Monroe County Health Department Director Bob Eadie. “Now it is not safe for people to come to the Middle Keys. We don’t want to create a health crisis.”
The Upper Keys situation is different. Much of the area has water, power, fuel, a functioning ER (and close proximity to Miami-Dade medical facilities) and open grocery stores and a pharmacy. Keys Energy Services, which covers the South end of Seven Mile Bridge to Key West, reports that about 16 percent of their clients now have service in parts of Key West, Stock Island and Key Haven.
The Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority reports it continues to make progress. It now has pressure down to Stock Island. Most of the homes and businesses not receiving water in the Upper and Middle Keys is mostly due to broken lines in people’s yards that were were ripped up by fallen trees.
From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 5 to 8 p.m., Key West and Stock Island will have water from stored supplies and the reverse osmosis plant. There are three fill stations for customers. Bring your jugs, 5 gallon buckets, etc. They will be open from 8-6 daily.
Since the above notice went out, Fox News has reported that a Publix grocery store in Key West will reopen this afternoon. The store has not been restocked since the hurricane, but they apparently still have useful items. It’s been previously reported that most structures in Key West suffered relatively little damage.