As most people who care about the Florida Keys probably know, the island chain felt impacts from Hurricane Ian’s tropical storm-force winds and storm surge Tuesday night and Wednesday, when Ian passed well to the west of Key West.
So this week, Keys Voices is breaking from its usual format to provide a post-Ian update.
Major Florida Keys & Key West infrastructure remains intact throughout the 125-mile-long island chain.
Key West International Airport reopened to commercial and general aviation service Thursday morning, according to Monroe County Airports Director Richard Strickland. However, he advised arriving and departing passengers to check with their airlines before going to airports for scheduled flights.
The area of the Keys most impacted by Ian appears to be Key West, where some roads were temporarily flooded because of storm surge or blocked because of fallen trees. City crews have been working tirelessly to remove downed tree limbs and clean remaining debris from streets and landmarks including the famed Southernmost Point.
Alyson Crean, the city’s public information officer, said about 100 Key West-area homes were impacted by flooding from the storm surge, but she provided the good news that no significant damage to buildings was reported from Ian’s tropical storm-force winds.
The other parts of the island chain, from the Lower Keys through Marathon and Islamorada to Key Largo, are east-northeast of Key West so Ian was farther away from them as it passed — and therefore, they had far fewer impacts.
One family on Stock Island, adjacent to Key West, got a surprise as they cleaned seaweed from around their boat ramp: a green sea turtle hatchling buried in about a foot of seaweed. Eight-year-old Khannan Mellies and his family promptly named the tiny turtle “Ian,” and it was transported to the Middle Keys’ Turtle Hospital for care and an eventual release back into the wild.
People who usually drive to the Keys will be glad to know that the Florida Keys Overseas Highway is open and traffic is flowing normally — though the Keys’ Sheriff Rick Ramsay cautioned everyone to be aware of the potential for road debris and standing water in some places.
Electric power went out in parts of Key West during Ian, but was restored to all customers by Friday — and people in the rest of the Keys have power as usual. Regular household and business water flow in the island chain was never interrupted.
Almost all Keys lodging facilities escaped significant impact from the storm and are open.
Most attractions, venues, watersports operations, restaurants and bars are open, with others planning to reopen in the coming days. Visitors with any questions should contact them individually.
Some state parks in the Keys may not reopen immediately; those planning to visit state parks should contact them individually as well.
Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Jefferson, which lie 70 miles west of Key West, partially reopened to the public Oct. 2. Seaplane service has resumed, but dock repairs are needed before ferry service can resume.
Those of us in the Keys and Key West are endlessly grateful to be spared the brunt of the storm’s impacts, and will do what we can to help others who were hard hit. We encourage Keys Voices readers to do the same.