Part Four – Are the Keys Ready For Visitors?
Before we went back to the Keys we had a couple of people tell us they had been down only a few weeks before and a lot of hotels and restaurants were still closed.
Hurricane Irma crossed the keys in September 2017 as a category four just south of Marathon. These storms are incredibly destructive and when you think about the narrow chain of keys surrounded by water the potential for disaster can be overwhelming. In circumstances like that keys residents generally evacuate and only the foolish stay behind. If you have visited the keys or if you go, pay attention to that mostly single two-lane road that stretches for about 75 miles from Key West to the mainland and imagine 50,000 residents trying to all drive north at the same time. That is probably the biggest reason why there is very little time to protect your property.
The key’s have (make that had) a great biking and hiking trail that stretched for mile after mile. Made up of paved stretches with fences and numerous small bridges with lane markings on the longer road bridges. As we drove south thru the keys the first thing we noticed was the damage to the trail. Fences were blown away, with small sections and pieces of the walkway completely washed away. It is going to be a long time before it is restored. There were a number of houses where nobody had done anything to clear debris or effect repairs but not as many as we had feared. A large number of trees and bushes had been destroyed and there were still piles along the roads waiting to be hauled away but all in all that was the worst of the destruction remaining.
A great deal has been done and about eighty to ninety percent of the facilities have been restored and are open. Almost all restaurants and most hotels are now open. It isn’t hard to ignore the damage and debris still waiting to be hauled away and because the keys have this no-hurry, laid back vibe we felt comfortable visiting. Key Largo and the northern keys seem as if the suffered little damage and Key West seems no worse for wear.
If you have been putting off a visit because of the hurricane damage – don’t. The keys are open for business, the water and weather are great and they could really use the business.