People who care about the Florida Keys likely are aware the island chain felt impacts from Hurricane Ian’s tropical storm-force winds and storm surge Sept. 27-28, when the center of the hurricane passed well west of Key West.
Major Florida Keys & Key West infrastructure remains intact throughout the 125-mile-long island chain. Key West International Airport is open and operating, all utilities are operating normally and traffic is flowing as usual along the Florida Keys Overseas Highway, including all 42 bridges. Gasoline is plentiful with no shortages.
Almost all Keys lodging establishments escaped significant storm impact and are open, tourism officials reported. Most Keys attractions, watersports operations, restaurants and bars are open, although hours and offerings may vary.
Upcoming Florida Keys events are continuing as planned including Marathon's Stone Crab Eating Contest, Race World Offshore's Key West Offshore World Championship powerboat races, the Lower Keys Island Art Festival and many others.
The part of the contiguous Keys island chain most impacted by Hurricane Ian was Key West, where city crews have performed clean-up tasks on streets, neighborhoods, visitor areas and landmarks including the famed Southernmost Point.
The other areas of the island chain, from the Lower Keys through Marathon and Islamorada to Key Largo, had far fewer impacts from Ian.
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.
According to Florida State Parks information, all 10 of the Florida Keys' state parks are open or partially open including John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park in Key Largo; San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Preserve State Park, Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park, Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park and Indian Key Historic State Park in the Islamorada area; Marathon's Curry Hammock State Park, which is fully open, and Long Key State Park, open for limited day use in the Middle Keys; the Lower Keys' Bahia Honda State Park and Key West's Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park. At some parks, certain offerings or access to specific areas may be limited. Visitors should check with individual parks before traveling to them.
Dry Tortugas National Park, lying 70 miles west of Key West, has resumed concession-operated ferry and seaplane service according to the National Park Service. Civil War-era Fort Jefferson, the park's centerpiece, is open again. Garden Key's beaches are open and waters around the fort are accessible for snorkeling. The park service also indicated that camping is now allowed, but private vessel space is very limited until further notice.
Everglades National Park has reopened the Flamingo District for normal operations. Open areas and facilities include the Flamingo Marina's boat ramp and visitor center, Flamingo Adventures boat tours and rentals, camping at campgrounds and in eco tents, as well as the Homestead and Shark Valley entrances and visitor centers and the Main Park Road. Marine waters are open. Visitors are urged to be cautious in case of hazards.
Key West Express boats weathered the storm and the high-speed ferry resumed trips to Key West from Marco Island on Oct. 24. Trips to and from Fort Myers Beach are expected soon.
For real-time webcam views of areas around the Florida Keys & Key West, click here.
Throughout the Keys, residents have expressed deep gratitude that the island chain was spared major impacts from Ian, and are supporting relief efforts for those in areas that were hard hit.
The fort at Dry Tortugas National Park, lying 70 miles west of Key West, is fully open following Hurricane Ian. Ferry and seaplane service to the park have resumed. Photo: Dry Tortugas National Park