The southern stretch of U.S. Highway 1, running from mainland Florida throughout the Florida Keys to Key West, has earned many names over the years. It’s been called the Overseas Highway. The Highway That Goes to Sea. One of America’s great bucket-list drives.

Robbie’s Marina in Islamorada recovered quickly and offers everything from on-the-water fun to tarpon-feeding adventures. (All photos by Andy Newman, Florida Keys News Bureau)

And for those of us who love the Keys, in the year following Hurricane Irma’s impact on the island chain, it has been an enduring symbol of our road to recovery.

That’s because many islands along the Overseas Highway sustained damage from Irma. Some, like the Upper Keys’ Key Largo and the southernmost island of Key West, felt less of the storm’s wrath. Others, like parts of Islamorada, Marathon and the Lower Keys, felt far too much of it and faced a long recovery.

But there’s one overwhelming truth about the Keys, and it has been proved again and again since Irma’s arrival on Sept. 10, 2017: the people who choose to make their home here are strong and resilient and caring.

Following Irma they helped their neighbors, reopened their businesses and started organizations like Keys Strong to assist those in need.

Irma might have battered the Keys’ landscape, but the storm couldn’t touch the island chain’s greatest asset and greatest strength: the tough, independent, creative, warmhearted spirit of its people.

In the 12 months since Irma, the Keys have recovered, re-energized, refurbished and renewed elements impacted by the hurricane. Some work remains — particularly in the hardest-hit areas of the Lower Keys — but incredible progress has been made in returning our world to its laid-back norm.

Sunset at Sunshine Key

A tranquil sunset caps the day at Sunshine Key RV Resort in the Lower Keys. Following extensive rebuilding, the resort formally reopens exactly one year after Irma.

More than 90 percent of all Keys lodging facilities (hotels, motels, campgrounds and bed-and-breakfast guesthouses) have reopened.

Museums, restaurants, attractions and wildlife centers are flourishing; watersports, fishing, diving and eco-tour operators are sharing their expertise with visitors as usual.

Today, on the anniversary of Irma’s passage through the Keys, we salute the strength of the people who are still recovering.

And we send heartfelt thanks to the visitors who supported us by spending time in our islands after Irma.

All day long, the Florida Keys tourism council will be posting real-time videos and photos from around the Keys on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter channels.

So please join us in celebrating our islands as they look today. And if you’re planning to visit in the coming months, know that you’ll get an openhearted welcome wherever you travel along the Overseas Highway.