Here's What We Know About The Florida Keys After Hurricane Irma

Ryan Grenoble
Here's What We Know About The Florida Keys After Hurricane Irma

Irma had been downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it crawled north out of Florida on Monday. But that was too late to help the Florida Keys.

When Irma made landfall on the Keys early Sunday, it hit as a Category 4 hurricane. The string of low-lying islands, extending a hundred or so miles into the ocean southwest of the tip of mainland Florida, were exposed to the storm’s then-130-mph winds.

Here’s what we know so far about the destruction Irma left behind:

  • There are no known fatalities on the islands, Florida Keys spokesman Andy Newman told CNN. That could change, however, as authorities get out to inspect the damage. 

  • U.S. Highway 1 through the Keys is closed until further notice. Debris and live electrified wires litter the road, Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Joe Sanchez told the Miami Herald. The highway won’t re-open until it has been cleared and the Florida Department of Transportation has time to inspect it for structural weaknesses.

  • Key West is without electricity, cell phone service, running water and emergency services, according to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Capt. Jeffrey Janszen, who stayed in Key West during the storm.

  • Most of the other Keys are reportedly without electricity, cell service and running water as well. The St. Augustine Record notes that access to fuel is also a problem.

  • During a press briefing on Monday, White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert said the Florida Keys “are going to take a while” and likely won’t be “fit for re-entry for regular citizens for weeks.”

  • Martin Senterfitt, emergency management director for Monroe County, told reporters on Monday that he feared a “humanitarian crisis” could be unfolding in the Keys. (Most of the county’s population lives on the islands.) The Air Force and Air National Guard are already providing relief support, he said, but they’re also dispatching “disaster mortuary teams.”

  • The U.S. Navy has dispatched the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln and three other vessels to Key West to provide emergency services, according to Stars and Stripes.

  • The middle and upper Keys, those closer to the mainland, appear to have sustained more damage than the lower Keys, although the whole island chain took a beating.

Simon Brewer, a meteorologist who rode out the storm on the islands, tweeted photos and video of Irma as it hit the lower Keys of Saddlebunch, Big Pine and Bahia Honda:

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