Florida Keys

In the Florida Keys, crews have cleared 4 of 103 canals set for cleanup from Hurricane Irma

Crews work on cleaning up canal no. 242 in Marathon.
Crews work on cleaning up canal no. 242 in Marathon. Wood Environment

Nearly one year after Hurricane Irma trashed canals across the Florida Keys, four were cleaned up in the first week of debris removal — a $49.2 million project for Monroe County.

Only 99 more to go.

More than 700 cubic yards of vegetation and construction or demolition debris were removed from 11 canals, said county spokeswoman Cammy Clark.

Nine crews have been working in six areas of the Keys. Of the four canals that were completed, two are on Big Pine Key, one is in Marathon and one is in Islamorada. Work started Aug. 17.

“The hurricane marine debris is being taken to nearby debris management sites before being hauled to the mainland for proper disposal,” Clark said in a news release.

The county has a web page for the public with a tentative master schedule for the 220-day project.

Monroe received funding to clean the worst littered 103 canals from the Emergency Watershed Protection Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The grant provided $49.2 million — $45.9 million for marine cleanup and $3.3 million for monitoring.

Of that amount, $35.2 million is for unincorporated Monroe County, $7.5 million is for Marathon and $6.5 million is for Islamorada.

The county hired Tavernier-based Adventure Environmental firm to take charge of the cleanup. Adventure and subcontractor Arnold’s Towing of Stock Island have a workforce of about 60. The canal cleanup equipment includes 15 barges specifically built for use in the Keys. Wood Environment and Infrastructure Solutions Inc. was hired to monitor the work.

Follow Gwen Filosa on Twitter @KeyWestGwen