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Old 09-14-2017, 11:23 AM
 
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NOAA released their high resolution satellite images of Florida after Irma, including the Keys so you can see what was destroyed or not. Of course, this is just an overhead view and you can't really tell if the first stories of structures were flooded or not, but it's pretty interesting to look at.

https://storms.ngs.noaa.gov/storms/irma/index.html
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Old 09-14-2017, 02:46 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjseliga View Post
NOAA released their high resolution satellite images of Florida after Irma, including the Keys so you can see what was destroyed or not. Of course, this is just an overhead view and you can't really tell if the first stories of structures were flooded or not, but it's pretty interesting to look at.

https://storms.ngs.noaa.gov/storms/irma/index.html
Good real world pics here

https://www.google.com/amp/www.daily...rida-Keys.html
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Old 09-20-2017, 06:13 PM
 
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For anyone looking for Keys recovery news, this is the best single source: Keys Recovery – Monroe County Emergency Management

Good info remains available on the KeysNet and Citizen websites for how Keys citizens are managing in the aftermath, as well as the numerous odd posts on craigslist.


I URGE people who are interested in the Keys, who are not already residents, to STAY OUT of the Keys! It is a mess there, and locals need roads to stay clear to get supplies shipped in, as well as to be able to get back themselves, and to travel back and forth to Miami for medical and other help that is not available locally. Too many well-meaning people are placing a burden on the community, wanting to come down to help repair things, really thinking in their head to also get a neat tropical vacation out of it. But there is no housing for residents as it is, and certainly no room for gawkers and "general handyman"s who will come down, further clogging roads and taking the only available rental/emergency tent space from homeless residents.

There is not even a plan by FEMA yet to put up trailers, because the Keys are so difficult to navigate in terms of space for housing. So no, there is no place for you to bring your 2 cars, tent, 3 dogs, and jet ski. It boggles the mind the kinds of "offers" I have seen posted.

What the Keys need are LICENSED contractors/plumbers and workers - local is better because we have special coding and concerns specific to the Keys, but apparently the state has offered to waive barriers to out of state licensed workers. Double-check that though, I'm not certain of what is and is not allowed. I know the waiver does also apply to out-of-state licensed medical workers, who could also be of use. It was already a nightmare getting access to licensed contractors, as well as decent medical care, before Irma. I was waiting for contractors for 2 different projects for more than a year by the time the storm hit, pre-hurricane! I can't imagine how long the wait will be now... And usually the permit office is super slow. But we will see what happens.

So yeah, weirdly this doesn't seem to have scared people off from the Keys. They watched all the coverage and looked past the piles of rubble to the pretty blue ocean and palms in the background, and it was like a whole new wave of tourist advertising. As they say, "no such thing as bad press"... People started trying to find new ways to come down and live or be a tourist the day after the hurricane was over! And fine, whatever floats (or in this case sinks) your boat. Who am I to judge, since I too made this choice to move down despite the haunts of reality? But, don't be a jerk - come when we have room for you, clean water, electricity, internet, sewer. Don't come when people are still slowly making their way back to travel to neighborhoods where all they will find of their home is a pile of splintered wood. Give them their space. Also, you all know Floridians are crazy, and CERTAIN networks made such a ridiculous stink of looting even though that was never widespread in this storm, so anyone who is a stranger in these neighborhoods is totally liable to get shot. No joke. Don't come down until at least December, when things will be more cleaned up, if indeed you can even find an available and affordable hotel room. We need to work out where locals will live in the meantime to run those hotels and restaurants and dive and fishing and tourist t-shirt companies you want to frequent. Individuals are not needed for unskilled labor at this time - come in an organized crew with a major nonprofit or govt outfit and licensed people, or don't come at all. And don't try to exchange "repair labor" for a chance to stay in someone's home - that is just insulting. Your random hammer-wielding is no better than the house owner's. What people need is income, not freeloaders looking to stay indefinitely at their house for light unskilled labor. Plenty of homeless locals to do that kind of stuff now for pay, so they can get back on their feet.

Besides, the water as of now is filled with wreckage and debris, and all surrounding ocean for the entire stretch carries no-swim warning because none of it has been tested for safety, and it is assumed to be contaminated. That means NOT clean, NOT safe to swim! In a few months, all of that will have been worked out, and tides and ocean currents do wonders. But for the moment, there might be sewage, chemicals, or who knows what else at the beach/reef/hotel pool. Wait until we've had a chance to clean up. The Keys have had bad hurricanes before, and brought things back to pretty before. But it takes time.

We are now up to 15 deaths in the county from Irma and its aftermath. Hopefully that won't go up too much more. Identification of the deceased has been listed on both the KeysNet and Citizen websites, for anyone who may be searching for someone they know.
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Old 09-26-2017, 04:12 PM
 
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Like markers in our debris-riddled waters, I have bolded a few words in each paragraph to make the following more navigable...
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

FYI:

Some people have been asking about individual tourist destination recovery. I haven't made it back to my house yet - maybe I will in a week. But in the meantime, this is what I know about a few of the sites people have mentioned:

*The Florida Keys have apparently officially reopened for business already, which I personally think is a huge mistake, driven entirely by their desire for tourist cash and not by what is best for the tourists, nor really the residents. Any place that is so bad that there is still a police-enforced curfew in place has no business soliciting tourists - and there is still a curfew in Islamorada all the way down to Shark Key just North of Key West. This is all the more true of islands whose reputation are for party tourism, which entails a lot of late nights and people who are too drunk to have common sense or look at their clocks. And yes, they do arrest people found out after curfew.

*All bridges as previously noted intact and safe, Overseas Hwy clear to drive in its entirety. Do NOT drive onto side streets, especially in the Mid-Lower Keys, as of yet. Lesser roads still have debris, and again people are sensitive about strangers in the area and have threatened to shoot those who don't belong in damaged neighborhoods. Don't gawk at other people's misery - it's not cute.

*The following parks remain closed:
• Bahia Honda
• Curry Hammock
• Dagny Johnson
• Key Largo Hammock Botanical
• Fort Zachary Taylor Historic
• Indian Key Historic
• John Pennekamp Coral Reef
• Lignumvitae Key Botanical
• Long Key
• Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological


Sombrero Beach in Marathon lost a great deal. Anne's Beach in Islamorada did too.



*The reef appears to have suffered extensive damage, but I don't think we know yet how much. I know that individual reef preservation/restoration nonprofits did successfully save their stock and facilities, so can resume their work when it is safe to do so. This appears to include Mote Lab, CRF, Dolphins Plus in Key Largo, Dolphin Research Center in Marathon, and the Turtle Hospital. Those who know the Keys though know there are a long list of environmental organizations and cool places to visit... many have Facebook pages and that might be the best place for individual updates on status. High tides in the days even AFTER the storm have stranded a number of marine animals, including dolphins and turtles, which locals and experts have gone out of their way to work together to rescue.


*NOTE PLEASE that the waters within 1 mile of shore around the entire county are NOT cleared as clean, swimmable, or navigable by boats. There is a ton of debris, and water quality has not been tested yet. And I'm sure crocodiles have been temporarily relocated from their usual dwelling places, lol...
Don't be a dummy and go out and get your prop tangled in some 150 mass of line. The Coast Guard has enough on their hands, nobody can spare the time and fuel to go rescue you. There are miles of floating dead seagrass which limit visibility, and endless boats and kitchen stoves and god knows what just a foot or two below the surface. Note that low speeds are enforced within 1 mile of shore, no planing allowed.

Stay OUT of the water until further notice
- probably at least mid-Nov... And let's be real, if you can't get in the water, the reefs are too much of a mess to snorkel, and the parks are closed - why again are you visiting the Keys? Even a lot of the hotel pools are broken or unswimmable as yet. You can get drunk in your own backyard with a lei from the local party supply store. Most tourists will be happier waiting until Dec or so when it starts getting cold up North, and the Keys are doing much better.

* Grimal Grove in Big Pine Key sounds like it is unfortunately totaled. There appears to be a campaign to raise money for it to reinstate, please consider donating. That was a beautiful project with a lot of Keys history, and a great community park for the Keys' future and efforts in organic edible sustainability. They partnered with a lot of people who also benefited emotionally from volunteering or visiting there, including at-risk youth.

*Some of the Upper Keys attractions appeared to have fared reasonably well. Overall, locations Bayside had less damage than those Oceanside. Drone videos of Pennekamp don't look too bad initially, although the park remains closed. State funding for all Parks is extremely low, so any park is going to have costs that they are going to really struggle to cover without donations. Consider giving to your favorites - although I personally think this is dumb, since Northern states that have income tax give generally to their public parks and keep them in stellar condition so they don't have to beg for individuals who feel like being generous day to day. We know Snapper's is gone, they say they will rebuild. Jules' Undersea Lodge took a major hit and is seeking donations.

Mrs. Mac's, Lorelei's, Hobo's, and The Fish House appear to be ok, based on initial reports.
MM88 appeared to have taken a bit of beating, but has reopened. Theater of the Sea saved their animals, and got minor damage to facilities. The giant lobster outside the Rain Barrel artists' village is still there, but no word yet on damages to interior stores.

Postcard Inn, Islamorada Fish Company, Bud N Mary's, and Cheeca Lodge and Spa appear to have taken major damage, and are closed pending further assessment. Robbie's Marina say they lost all their docks, and the tarpon swam to deeper waters for safety. The tarpon will return, the docks will likely be rebuilt. All of this will take time. Founder's Park is closed to the public until probably Dec, as it is being used as a station for debris haul.

*Sadly, the Bat Tower on Sugarloaf was completely wiped out. That part of Keys History is over. Those of us lucky enough to see it and get pictures when it stood will remember what a beautiful and peaceful little place it was, if strange, and a monument to a total logistical failure.

*Pigeon Key appears to be a mess, but from pictures doesn't appear to be totally decimated. Which is a amazing, because the entire point is its history as a settlement of early railroad workers, long pre-highway.

*Knights Key also took a hit, no hint yet as to how this will affect the major upscale Singh development there, supposed to be the fanciest resort in the contiguous US. Key Deer from the Refuge have been sighted, but no numbers as to impact yet on the already tiny population. Looks like No Name Pub survived. As we know, much of Big Pine Key did not fare as well. Boondocks, near the site of landfall, appears to still be standing, which is and of itself is a bit of a miracle. Closed until further notice, though. Same with Square Grouper Bar. Sugarloaf Lodge seems intact. No word out of Sugarloaf KOA yet - temporary closure at least 4 months according to FB. It does not look good.

*All of Key West looking good, debris and minor damage only. Feel free to keep tipping back those margaritas, and waiting for the next one!


I advise you to plan your vacations for Winter or later to get the most out of the area. People wanting to come down to help with rebuild, most of you should just stay home and donate. We are now severely short of enough housing even for residents - there is nowhere to put you. Permitting and license requirements are still in effect for the Keys, which have always been extremely strict - waivers to that are only for FL state contractors, and a few very specific out-of-state teams, for ROOFS ONLY. You have to get all the paperwork and temporary licensing in order still. If you do repairs to somebody's house without permits and licenses, you are actually only hurting them in the long run - the county will be around to fine them astronomically within a year's time, often forcing them out of their homes. No joke. I know of people before the hurricane who got hit with 100k and 200k fines for what outsiders would deem to be minor unpermitted work. Any work valued at $800 total including parts and labor requires a permit in Monroe County - so pretty much any work you could do. The county wants money, they will only see this as a golden opportunity to collect on those who tried to work outside of their local closed Bubba system. You're not doing people any favors by coming down and doing work on their home outside of a major licensed crew. Even more so if you have the audacity to want free rent indefinitely in exchange, so you can become yet another Keys drifter with no plan, another person who needs services down here in the next hurricane. Our disaster is not your opportunity for your next vacation.

Also, if you were hoping this would dramatically lower prices... so far, the indication is Not A Chance. Houses that survived are worth even more, because there are fewer of them, and they proved they are sturdy. And inexplicably, people still want this Keys lifestyle, hurricanes be damned... Note though, we may get a huge wave of foreclosures if insurances raise astronomically, as they are predicted to as a result. So if you want to pay the cost of a second full mortgage to cover required hazard insurance on top of the actual mortgage, go ahead.
If you can afford to pay cash... congrats. But then, you didn't have a whole lot of problems to begin with, did you? The Keys were already 50% cash buyers, and that percentage will likely continue to increase, as the rest of us suckers get forced out.

There are "sales" being run on trailers at trailer parks already, trying to rebuild. Please don't be an idiot and run for next year's Darwin Awards. Reports are virtually 100% of them were wiped out. Take a hint - it's because they are not safe. Likewise with houseboats, and liveaboard boats that you don't intend to sail out of hurricane waters ahead of season. You'll sink all your money, and possibly also your body, when the next hurricane rolls in next year, or even next season - remember there were multiple hits in 2004, as well as other years in the Keys' past. These storms will be more and more violent, and more and more frequent. Make decisions accordingly. Of the 15 reported Keys' deaths from Irma, most appear to be people who were drifters here, or chose to stay on boats or in trailers and ignore evacuation orders. People think all 3 of those pasttimes are glamorous in the Keys. During the months of Jun-Nov particularly, they are not.

If you ignore advice and come down to live in a death trap anyway, at least keep a credit card with an open line of credit on you at all times, so you can at least catch a bus and get your dummy self out for the next evacuation order. Start early, a day or two before official evacuation, to avoid getting stuck on the road. And thanks in advance for leaving more debris to block our roads, destroy our parks, hit our surviving houses and cars with, and litter our reef with in your wake when you abandon it all when the next big one approaches.

I leave it up to the locals to decide if we're going to rebuild. But are we going to get hit again? Most definitely. I hope building codes remain strict and enforced, and that the county outlaws all trailer parks and houseboats and instead uses the lots these once stood on for hurricane-rated low income apartment buildings. They would far more efficiently use the limited land we have, would be much better looking, far safer, and in the long run far more financially sound for both investors and renters. Moreover, there would be plenty of room for many such buildings on the sites where below-flood buildings were wiped out throughout the Keys, to finally address and even eliminate our affordable housing crisis altogether. We could then have better service in the tourism industry with people who stay and are invested in their jobs and the community, and could afford to lower rates a bit on hotels and restaurants because we don't need to keep trucking people and retraining new people every month. All of which would be very good for business. This is all obvious to anyone who has common sense. But, if common sense were the guiding principle, we wouldn't be in the predicament we're in now... so it remains to be seen if anyone can actually take this wonderful opportunity to learn from it, and adapt, for a better Keys future, for both residents and visitors alike.

Last edited by StarfishKey; 09-26-2017 at 04:26 PM..
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Old 09-26-2017, 10:46 PM
 
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^^ An addendum to the above, since I can no longer edit (lamentably, since there are multiple typos I'd like to fix):
* I have always been a strong believer in affordable Keys housing maintaining a realistic cap on pricing based on local wages and monthly earnings - despite most jobs paying an average of $10/hr and most local workers being afforded no more than 20-35 hrs/wk by one job, effectively avoiding "full time" and benefits pay, the term "low income housing" can legally be applied in the Keys to even govt-sanctioned products, charging $2200/month for a 1-bedroom apartment. Yeah. Additionally, low-income hurricane-proof housing, like any built in the Keys, needs to require proof of residency for at least 1 year PRIOR to the storm - we have a shortage for CURRENT residents, these projects should never be put in place allowing more people with no job and no plan to move down here and get housing 25-year locals with kids and long-time jobs still can't get.

*In addition to the hurricane-rated low income housing buildings - which yes, the locals eternally fight out of selfishness and short-sightedness, while still allowing as many trailer parks and live-in marinas as people want like there's any difference to property values or traffic - I do think that if locals insist on keeping the trailer parks legal (with the dumb changes they're now proposing like elevation of a few feet - like hurricanes aren't also a wind event requiring a more sound structure than a camper on concrete blocks!), those of you who really want to come down on the affordable should consider this:

Please keep in mind that camping in yards or streets or anywhere but the very few campgrounds we have is illegal in the Keys. Homeless laws are in abundance, and strictly enforced - so being a drifter is a life full of hassle, and inevitably danger as certain people get off on causing physical harm to those who live outside the bounds of traditional society. The county also likes making money off locals who choose to flaunt these laws for a little extra tourist cash. The hurricane is not going to change these laws. So you still can't squat on somebody's property. But, if you really insist on coming down and don't have the money, I would say that driving in with a Tiny House on wheels, or a bona fide trailer that is truly mobile and remains so, and leaving every season or at least half a week in advance of a predicted hurricane evacuation (meaning a few days before the "cone of uncertainty" even reaches the Keys to know which way it's likely going) if not seasonally as a snow bird, is the best way to manage this. You'll have to park it in a legal trailer park, or professional campground, and yes, pay for the site. Just swear up and down that you'll really leave every season, well in advance of any serious storm. Plan ahead, don't clog the roads. Don't take dumb chances. Prepare that you my have to leave several times each season, because multiple hurricanes can hit, and certainly at least threaten the area, in a single year..

Most people in the Keys are fully compassionate to the fact that people want to be here and aren't necessarily wealthy. But, you still have to be realistic, and not put yourselves, others, or the local environment in danger for your selfish desires. Plan ahead.

If we're going to allow trailer parks, it seems to me we should require them to actually be TRAILERS, fully mobile, and that each park should include in leasing paperwork that all vehicles must evacuate seasonally, or ahead of mandatory orders, and that park gates will be closed and any stragglers towed at the owner's expense off the lot. Mobile trailers are one thing, but the days of trailers up on blocks with planters like it's any kind of permanent stationary home - whether raised up above flood or not - should be long past.

But still, to me the far more efficient and safe way to do this, and in the long-run cost effective for everybody if there are caps on rent, is hurricane-rated buildings specifically for low-income residents, with requirement of long-term residency first (preference should be given for the longer a person can show proof of being local prior to the application).


My apologies for numerous run-on sentences and typos - I haven't been getting much sleep lately crashing on somebody's floor. I look forward to my eventual return.
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Old 09-26-2017, 11:24 PM
 
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* Upper Keys reef looking good so far: ‘We’re super optimistic about the reefs,’ says Rainbow Reef Dive manager after underwater survey off Key Largo following Hurricane Irma. | FL Keys News

It may be the Looe Key reef that reports of severe damage were based on...

But at least that's some good news to start with.
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Old Today, 02:58 PM
 
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Per the county's disaster website:


Update on Monroe County’s Parks, Boat Ramps, and Museums Damaged By Hurricane Irma


Most of Monroe County’s parks, boat ramps and museums from Key Largo to Key West sustained damage as a result of Hurricane Irma. While most remain closed to the public, below is additional information regarding the status of various facilities:


KEY WEST

Higgs Beach: It will reopen Saturday, Oct. 7. The restrooms will close at sunset until further notice. Higgs Beach’s Reynolds Street Pier will remain closed to the public as parts of the pier need to be rebuilt following the storm. While the storm caused mounds of sand to be pushed onto the tennis courts and streets, the sand that was salvageable was returned to the beach. Unfortunately, some of that sand was swept into the water by recent king tides.
Handrails along the seawalls were destroyed and will take time to be replaced. Beachgoers are asked to not use the seawall steps and to be mindful of the rocks that are no longer covered by sand.
Two pavilions in the dog park and one pavilion on the beach were not salvageable and have been removed.

West Martello Tower: The museum and garden that is owned by the County and operated by the Key West Garden Club will remain closed until further notice. The museum, which is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, suffered significant damage to large trees, landscaping and the building.

East Martello Museum: This museum may open as early as Sunday and we will post additional updates as they become available.

Key West Pine Park: Closed.

Key West Lighthouse & Keeper’s Quarters: Opened Friday, Oct. 6, with limited hours until further notice.


LOWER KEYS

Big Coppitt Volunteer Fire Department Park: Closed. Sustained damage to their fencing and has

flooded.

Wilhelmina Harvey Park, Big Coppitt Key: Closed. Entry to the park is blocked due to debris.

Big Pine Key Community Park: Closed. Most of park severely damaged. It remains unsafe with non-functioning lights.

Blue Heron Park, Big Pine Key: Closed. The park sustained damage to their main building and needs debris to be cleared.

Bay Point Park, Saddlebunch Key. Closed. Flooded with debris and does not have operational lighting.

Watson Field Park, Big Pine Key: Closed. Dugout, building and fence damage. Field unusable and lights not functioning.



MIDDLE KEYS

Pigeon Key. Closed indefinitely.
All of the structures on the island sustained some level of damage. Before hurricane Irma struck, the only access to the island was by boat due to the 7-Mile Bridge repair work. During the storm, the dock sustained severe damage and is not safe for use. The Gang Quarters sustained siding damage and the loss of the South end porch. The Commissary was knocked off its foundation and is severally damaged. The Honey Moon Cottage was also knocked off its foundation and also sustained severe damage. The Bridge Tenders House, the Assistant Bridge Tenders House, the Paint Foreman’s House and the Assistant Paint Foreman’s House all suffered roof damage. However, the roof of the Section Gang Quarters House (main dining hall) sustained no structural damage. This roof was replaced by Monroe County Project Management earlier this year. The Bridge Foreman’s Home sustained minor structural damage. A full effort to stabilize and restore all historic structures is being made and the project will take several months.

Veterans Memorial Park, Little Duck Key: Closed. Sustained severe damage to its pavilions and has not been cleared to re-open.



UPPER KEYS

Friendship Park, Key Largo: Closed until playground can pass safety inspection.

Key Largo Community Park: Pool is open but rest of the park is closed until further notice.

Murray E. Nelson Park, Key Largo: Open

Rowell’s Waterfront Park, Key Largo: Closed as the park is being used as a temporary debris

collection site.

Sunset Point Park with boat ramp, 20 Sunset Drive, Key Largo: Open

Old Settlers Park, Tavernier: Closed.

Burr Beach/Park, Tavernier: Closed.

Harry Harris Park, Tavernier: Closed indefinitely.




Windley Key State Park just reopened, which is good news.






*King tides have hit Monroe County worse than predicted, and so flooding some 8 inches or more above normal plagued the Keys this week, and will continue to later this month, as well as again in Nov and Dec.




And as per the state park disaster page:

HURRICANE IRMA - Park Updates

The Florida Parks Service is working to quickly and safely reopen parks.
The following state parks are currently closed:
  • Bahia Honda State Park (Monroe County)
  • Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park (Dade County)
  • Curry Hammock State Park (Monroe County)
  • Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park (Monroe County)
  • Faver-Dykes State Park (St. Johns County)
  • Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park (Monroe County)
  • Hontoon Island State Park (Volusia and Lake counties)
  • Indian Key Historic State Park (Monroe County)
  • John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (Monroe County)
  • Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park (Monroe County)
  • Long Key State Park (Monroe County)




***For those looking to book vacations, I really urge you to keep this in mind. Biologists are currently assessing reef damage. So at this time, while we don't know how bad it is, snorkeling and diving are not taking place as usual. Hotels are cleaning up, but a large number of locals are displaced, and FEMA trailers have not made it to use by residents. The only place for locals to stay is in Keys hotels, paid for by FEMA, so if you come to the Keys you are effectively making local residents homeless. Hotels prefer the higher rate that tourists pay, versus the bare minimum rate that FEMA will reimburse them. So sure, they say they're open for business - but that's not what's best for local people, who are being forced into the street so you can come get drunk. Boating, fishing, swimming are all still interrupted by debris, and are not back to safe conditions yet.



Please delay your trip a little longer - I would say at least until Nov if not early Dec - so that Keys residents can safely continue clean-up and have a place to live while they repair their homes. The Keys will be a better place to visit when the waters are clean again, and locals can serve you at the hotel after a night spent in their own home, rather than a night spent in their car because you took the only room left on the island to buy some cheesy t-shirts and feel like you were "helping the locals." Keys businesses are getting relief from FEMA, including interest-free loans, so they don't actually need the high rates they're charging you for a sub-par disaster vacation. They're just being greedy. Don't help them displace locals who need to be nearby to supervise work on their homes and be near loved ones, keep their kids in school, etc.

Last edited by StarfishKey; Today at 03:10 PM..
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