Hurricane

Florida Keys live updates: Free ice and water available, no word on lower Keys entry date

Aerial footage shows the devastation from Hurricane Irma in Florida Keys

Drone footage shows the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in the Florida Keys on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017.
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Drone footage shows the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in the Florida Keys on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017.

The Florida Keys are reeling from a direct hit by Hurricane Irma that left many without power or water.

The Miami Herald has reporters in the Keys, in Miami, in Tallahassee and embedded with the National Guard. Stay with us for live updates.

Monroe County update on water, power and medical services

Sept 15, 3:30 p.m.: SHELTERS

The Red Cross is gathering the incoming supplies and plans to have the shelters opened later today in Coral Shores, Marathon High School, Sugarloaf High School, and Key West High School. They have cots, blankets and comfort kits.

Islamorada has opened a shelter at Island Christian School and the Fire Chief has set up 2 Salvation Army Canteen Units at Island Christian School and at the MM75 Check Point.

RE-ENTRY

Re-entry is still limited to residents and business owners in the Upper Keys, to mile marker 73 and only during non-curfew hours. Work is being done as quickly as possible to make it safe enough to open the rest of the Keys to re-entry.

Discussions are in the works to reopen the Keys as far as Marathon. A few more health safety issues have to be worked out first. Stay tuned.

The Lower Keys, the hardest hit by Hurricane Irma, is still unsafe to return. It has limited power and water and will take the longest in the Keys to return those utilities due to the damage.

Key West is making great progress on restoring services and is beginning discussions about when to reopen.

The Upper Keys situation is different. Much of the area has water, power, fuel, and open grocery stores and a pharmacy.

POWER

Keys Energy Services, which covers the South end of Seven Mile Bridge to Key West, reports that 17 percent of their clients now have service in parts of Key West, Stock Island and Key Haven.

The Florida Keys Electric Coop, which services the rest of the Keys, has restored power to about 60-65 percent of its service area.

GENERATOR SAFETY

Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, or any partially enclosed area. Keep these devices outdoors, away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.

Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent CO buildup in the home. Although CO can't be seen or smelled, it can rapidly lead to full incapacitation and death. Even if you cannot smell exhaust fumes, you may still be exposed to CO. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air RIGHT AWAY - DO NOT DELAY.

WATER

The Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority reports it continues to make progress and their phone line has been repaired. Please call 305-296-2454 to contact them about water leaks. Stock Island and Key Haven now has water available 24/7 and Key West will have water from 10 a.m. to noon and 5 to 10 p.m. tomorrow.

But the boil water notice order is still in effect there and throughout the Keys. Water should only be used for sanitation purposes and not for washing cars, boats and houses for now. Please be considerate of your fellow Keys neighbors who still don’t have any water and need the pressure to continue.

There are three fill stations for customers. Bring your jugs, 5 gallon buckets, etc. They will be open from 8-6 daily. The locations are as follows:

Mile Marker 10 on Big Coppitt @ FKAA Pump Station Tank

Summerland Key @ Horace Street @ FKAA Pump Station Tank

Big Pine Key @ Drinka Lane across from Winn Dixie

MEDICAL SERVICES

Mariners Hospital in Tavernier officially opened today. The Lower Keys Medical Center’s Emergency Room is open and they are working to completely open the hospital in Key West.

Disaster Medical Assistance Teams have set up medical care stations at Florida Keys Community College on Stock Island and at Marathon City Hall. They are open 24/7.

SEARCH AND RESCUE

Search and rescue teams have gone door to door to nearly 15,000 homes throughout the Keys. They are about 98 percent completed. Key West and a few other areas did not need this type of search and rescue effort. Military personnel have helped law enforcement break through the debris and assist in the search. The search teams do not enter shuttered homes at this time.

We know that many people are worried about family members and friends who stayed in the Keys during Hurricane Irma and now cannot be reached due to lack of cell service, power and wifi. For information on how to find your relatives in the Keys, log onto www.safeandwell.org.

COUNTY FOOD AND WATER DISTRIBUTION POINTS

Six distribution centers for food and water will be in operation today. They are not providing ice. They are located at:

Coral Shores High School in Tavernier

Marathon High School

National Key Deer Refuge office on the Overseas Highway in Big Pine Key

Sugarloaf School

Sears Town Plaza in New Town Key West

4th Street parking lot near the soccer field in Bahama Village in Old Town Key West.

CURFEW

The curfew in the Upper Keys has been changed from 10 p.m. to sunrise. The dusk-to-dawn curfew will remain in place until further notice. “Any citizen out moving around at night will be stopped by law enforcement and will be sent home,” Monroe County Sheriff Office Col. Lou Caputo said.

– CAMMY CLARK, SPOKESWOMAN FOR MONROE COUNTY

Winn-Dixie opens in Florida Keys

Sept 15, 1:15 p.m.: Winn-Dixie opened a key West grocery store Friday morning, following Publix reopened its first location there on Thursday.

The Winn-Dixie store at 2778 N. Rooselvelt Blvd. opened at 10 a..m., and has an early closing time of 3 p.m. The pharmacy is also open, and Winn-Dixe said any prescription bottle can be refilled inside. There is no need for customers have a Winn-Dixie account to have their prescriptions refilled.

– DOUGLAS HANKS

Boaters urged to stay out of Key West area

Sept 15, 12:20 p.m.: Boaters are encouraged to avoid waters around Key West, as the Port of Key West will remain closed for the weekend, the U.S. Coast Guard announced Friday. Due to “unsafe infrastructure” and debris in the water, the Coast Guard warned that “safe navigation around the Keys can't be ensured at this time.” Hurricane Irma slammed into the Keys on Sunday before traveling up the state. “Vessel operators not abiding by safe boating regulations may endanger themselves or the people around them and may ultimately hamper any ongoing relief efforts in the area,” Cmdr. Lexia Littlejohn, a deputy incident commander for the Coast Guard, said in a prepared statement.

— NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Free ice, water and food on Friday

Sept 15, 11:00 a.m.: Winn-Dixie donated a tractor trailer truck of ice to residents of Big Pine Key. The ice is available at the Winn-Dixie on Big Pine Key, at 251 Key Deer Blvd, at 1 p.m. on Friday.

Walmart donated a tractor trailer truck full of water, which is scheduled to arrive at Coral Shores High School -89901 Old Highway Mile Marker 89 around noon or 1 p.m. The National Guard and associates will be on scene.

Lucy’s Retired Surfer’s Bar and Restaurant, at 20 Grinnell St on Key West, will be serving at least 1,000 free meals on Friday afternoon.

— ALEX HARRIS

Debris removal free for residents of unincorporated Monroe County

Sept 14, 9:30 p.m.: Monroe COunty contractors will pick up storm debris for free in unincorporated Monroe County, City of Layton and City of Key Colony Beach if residents make sure to:

Stack hurricane related debris on the county right of way (road shoulder) in front of homes. It must not block the road or driveways.

Do not put debris on vacant lots or other private property; It will not be picked up.

You must separate into five groups:

· vegetative debris (tree branches, leaves)

· seaweed

· household appliances

· household hazardous waste, which includes paints, cleaners, etc.

· non-vegetative debris

This needs to be kept separate from regular household trash. Contents of refrigerators should be thrown out in regular trash. This gets picked up by regular garbage collection.

In addition to household trash, things that are not eligible for pick up by debris contractor include cars, trucks, motor cycles, trailers, boats or other watercraft and car parts like tires.

In the areas that have vacuum sewers in Key Largo and Tavernier, make sure not to stack debris near sewer system breathers, which are in the right of way. In the Upper Keys they look like small concrete pillars.

Debris also should be kept away from fire hydrants and utility poles.

Collection of debris in the Upper Keys will begin soon. More detailed information about schedule will be provided. There will be multiple passes through all neighborhoods.

— CAMMY CLARK, MONROE COUNTY SPOKESWOMAN

Still no word on when Keys will reopen to residents

Sept. 14, 6:30 p.m.: Monroe County officials still have no idea when the Florida Keys will reopen to residents past around mile marker 73.

“We’re working as hard as we can to get basics restored for residents as fast as we can,” said Bryan Cook, a spokesman for Monroe County. “Please practice patience.”

Supply trucks and emergency services are being let through past that point, but residents are still blocked.

— KATE IRBY

As National Guard Brings supplies to Keys, two head to mainland by foot

5:03 p.m.: In the Keys right now, a lot of traffic is flowing south. There are National Guard units that are distributing food and water. There are resources from every agency that you can think of coming in with supplies: fuel, groceries, ice water. But two people at least were headed out.

Young and Pruitt had a rolling cooler for water, a rolling suitcase, and they were also carrying medications for Young's asthma, high blood pressure and bad knee. And they were caring Gucci, Young's Yorkshire Terrier in a bag. They'd gotten a ride as far as Big Coppit Key about 10 miles from Key West, and my husband and I took them to Big Pine Key. We last saw them heading over the next bridge on the way out.Stacy Young and Cherie Pruitt were walking along the side of the Overseas Highway Thursday morning. They were walking from Key West to the mainland where they plan to meet up with Young's mom. They said it was just too hot in Key West, and they were especially worried about the lack of water service.

— NANCY KLINGENER, WLRN

U.S. Navy aircraft carrier relieved of hurricane duty, sails north from the Keys

Sept 14, 3:00 p.m.: In a sign of scaling-back Hurricane Irma relief operations in and around Florida, the Navy relieved the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln from duty off the Keys on Thursday and recalled it to its base in Norfolk, Virginia, military officials said.

The Lincoln was the largest symbol of the huge national response mounted by the Department of Defense as the Category 5 hurricane was headed to Florida. But by Thursday, with an estimated 10,000 National Guard and reserve troops in the state, all but about 2,000 from Florida, the Pentagon had already began recalling forces.

Read the rest here.

— CAROL ROSENBERG

Big Pine Key resident wants to bring a ‘moveable feast’ back to the Keys

Sept 14, 2:40 p.m.: Julie Kincaid lives on Big Pine Key, what she refers to as "ground zero" for Hurricane Irma. Like everyone else who evacuated, she's unable to get back to her home.

But when she does go back, she wants to bring a "moveable feast."

Law enforcement is preventing Keys residents from returning, citing safety concerns, and has yet to provide details on when they will allow people who evacuated to go back. But when they can, Kincaid, a coordinator of science and nursing at the Florida Keys Community College, said she wants as many people as possible to be ready with trucks full of supplies – not just for themselves, but for everyone.

"Everybody is sitting here and we can't help, there's nothing we can do for our neighbors still there," Kincaid said. "This is something we can do."

Kincaid is looking for residents who have extra rooms in their cars, trailers or U-hauls to take basic necessities back once the road is opened. For those who don't live in the keys, she's looking for donations of basic necessities such as water, food, propane tanks, toilet paper and non-electric cookers for boiling water. She's currently assembling an official list of needs.

"It sounds like we're going to be without power for a long time down there," she said. "So we need to think of things we can use without power."

A few people have already volunteered trailers to haul supplies back once the road is opened. Kincaid is currently staying in Wellington in Palm Beach County, and other trailer locations include Jupiter, Spartanburg, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Those interested in donating items, trailers or services should contact Kincaid at julie.kincaid@icloud.com.

— KATE IRBY

Coast Guard sends help to the Keys

Sept 14, 2:00 p.m.: With some communications broken to Coast Guard outposts in the Keys, a "communications enhancement convoy" left the Opa-Locka station on Thursday to re-establish local links to the search-and-rescue agency from Key West to Islamorada.

Also headed to the Keys: A Coast Guard Port Security from Kiln, Mississippi, to help with law enforcement in and around Coast Guard facilities.

Separately, the Coast Guard Thursday dispatched a "Gulf Strike Team" to the Keys to evaluate for potential pollution left in Hurricane Irma's wake, said Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Kelley of Coast Guard headquarters in Miami. The strike teams look for hazardous substances, vessels and other dangers in the water churned up in the hurricane -- some of which will require salvage to help the fragile island chain's waterways recover.

Lastly, in a sign of the reach of the response and recovery efforts, the Coast Guard District 7's Miami headquarters had a team working out of a dispatch center in way-inland St. Louis, Missouri, 1,200 miles away -- coordinating flights to support relief efforts in South Florida in collaboration with Homeland Security's Customs and Border protection Air Interdiction agency.

— CAROL ROSENBERG

Publix opens in Key West

Sept 14, 1:00 p.m.: Publix reopened a Key West store on Thursday, resuming grocery service in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

After being replenished by a convoy of supplies heading south from Miami, Publix Store No. 500 in Searstown Plaza opened its doors at 10 a.m. The store, located at 3316 N Roosevelt Blvd, is running on generator power and limited hours, with closing time set at 4 p.m.

"We're doing the best we can," said Nicole Maristany Krauss, media relations manager for Publix in Miami. "It's not lost on us that the community is really relying on us to be available."

— DOUGLAS HANKS

Key West’s famous bars are closed. One opened so Conchs could phone home

Sept 14, 11:50 a.m.: With no water, no electricity and a curfew, the famous bars of Key West are not open for business after Hurricane Irma rolled through town.

The Green Parrot opened its doors this week.

They aren’t slinging drinks, don’t have any live music — but they are drawing quite the crowd. The Parrot, you see, has a working telephone.

Read the rest here.

— GEORGE RICHARDS

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Eric Ward, the bartender at Key Largo's Snappers inspects the damage from Hurricane Irma at the popular restaurant on Tuesday, September 12, 2017. AL DIAZ adiaz@miamiherald.com

Highlights from Monroe County Emergency Management 11:45 a.m. update

Sept 14, 11:45 a.m.: RE-ENTRY is still limited to residents and business owners to mile marker 73 and only during non-curfew hours. Marathon to Key West still is unsafe to return. There is limited water, food, power, fuel, sewer and medical services.

“We know people are anxious to return but we can’t put an artificial timeline on when it will be safe to return,” Monroe County Health Department Director Bob Eadie. “Now it is not safe for people to come to the Middle Keys. We don’t want to create a health crisis.”

The Upper Keys situation is different. Much of the area has water, power, fuel, a functioning ER (and close proximity to Miami-Dade medical facilities) and open grocery stores and a pharmacy.

POWER

Keys Energy Services, which covers the South end of Seven Mile Bridge to Key West, reports that about 16 percent of their clients now have service in parts of Key West, Stock Island and Key Haven.

The Florida Keys Electric Coop, which services the rest of the Keys, has restored power to about 42 percent of its service area.

WATER

The Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority reports it continues to make progress. It now has pressure down to Stock Island. Most of the homes and businesses not receiving water in the Upper and Middle Keys is mostly due to broken lines in people’s yards that were were ripped up by fallen trees. There is still a precautionary boil water notice in effect for all of the Keys.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 5 to 8 p.m., Key West and Stock Island will have water from stored supplies and the reverse osmosis plant.

There are three fill stations for customers. Bring your jugs, 5 gallon buckets, etc. They will be open from 8-6 daily. The locations are as follows:

Mile Marker 10 on Big Coppitt @ FKAA Pump Station Tank

Summerland Key @ Horace Street @ FKAA Pump Station Tank

Big Pine Key @ Drinka Lane across from Winn Dixie

MEDICAL SERVICES

Disaster Medical Assistance Teams have set up medical care stations at Florida Keys Community College on Stock Island and at Marathon City Hall. They are open 24/7.

SEARCH AND RESCUE

Search and rescue teams continue today to go door to door in the hardest hit areas of the Keys, including Big Pine Key and Cudjoe Key. Military personnel have helped law enforcement break through the debris and assist in the search. The search teams do not enter shuttered homes at this time.

We know that many people are worried about family members and friends who stayed in the Keys during Hurricane Irma and now cannot be reached. The major reason for not being able to reach people is the lack of communication capability in the Keys. Most of the Keys are without internet or cell service.

COUNTY FOOD AND WATER DISTRIBUTION POINTS

Six distribution centers for food and water will be in operation today. They are located at:

Coral Shores High School in Tavernier

Marathon High School

National Key Deer Refuge office on the Overseas Highway in Big Pine Key

Sugarloaf School

Sears Town Plaza in New Town Key West

4th Street parking lot near the soccer field in Bahama Village in Old Town Key West.

CURFEW

The dusk-to-dawn curfew will remain in place until further notice. “Any citizen out moving around at night will be stopped by law enforcement and will be sent home,” Monroe County Sheriff Office Col. Lou Caputo said.

MARINE TOWING AND SALVAGE

Sea Tow Key Largo is up and running. All vessels, salvage equipment, trucks and trailers are ready for work. If you need assistance, call: 502-645-3578 or 305-451-3330.

CELL SERVICE

Cell service still is spotty and mostly unavailable in the Keys. AT&T and Verizon crews are working to restore service.

There is not land lines or cell service available at the Emergency Operations Center in Marathon. This is a restricted space for first responders who are working around the clock to help the community recover and get resources to the people who need it.

HOW TO GET INFORMATION WITH NEW WEBSITE

Monroe County Emergency Management has a new website dedicated solely to the Hurricane Irma Recovery Effort. It is www.keysrecovery.org.

Information also is available on Facebook (Monroe County BOCC) and Twitter (@monroecounty) with #keysrecovery

Monroe County’s Information Hotline is back on line at 1-800-955-5504.

— CAMMY CLARK, MONROE COUNTY SPOKESWOMAN

Supplies and manpower heading to the Keys from Miami Beach

Sept 14, 11:10 a.m.: Miami Beach firefighters are heading south to relieve emergency workers in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, and they're taking donated supplies with them.

A crew of of about 20 left Wednesday with nonperishable food, water, flashlights, candles and other supplies collected from residents across the city. Commissioner John Elizabeth Aleman drove her SUV from south to north beach to people's doors to pickup the goods as residents returned to their homes, surveyed their own damage and tried to get back to normal.

Another crew of firefighters left Thursday at noon. Depending on demand from the Keys, there may be more heading south in the coming days. Each trip will be an opportunity to donate to devastated communities down south.

— JOEY FLECHAS

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Florida Governor Rick Scot visits emergency operations staff at Monroe County Marathon Government Center on Wednesday, September 13, 2017. AL DIAZ adiaz@miamiherald.com

Gov. Scott activates loan program for businesses damaged by Hurricane Irma

Sept 14, 10:40 a.m.: On Thursday, Gov. Rick Scott activated a loan program designed to support small businesses impacted by Hurricane Irma. The bridge loan program will provide interest-free, short-term loans to small businesses that had physical or economic damage in the storm. Business owners can apply Thursday through October 31. Scott OK’d up to $10 million for the program, which is managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

Business owners must: Have between two and 100 employees, be located in the 67 Florida counties affected by Irma, have been established before September 4, 2017 and demonstrate economic injury of physical damage from the storm. The loans — worth up to $25,000 — will be granted in terms of 90 to 180 days.

To complete an application by the Oct. 31, 2017, deadline, or for more information on the program, visit www.floridadisasterloan.org. For questions regarding the Emergency Bridge Loan Program, contact the Florida Small Business Development Center Network at 850-898-3489 or email Disaster@FloridaSBDC.org.

— ALEX HARRIS

Virtual Care Clinic for veterans in Key West, Key Largo and Homestead

Sept 14, 9:30 a.m.: The Miami Veterans Association Healthcare System opened a virtual care clinic for patients displaced by Hurricane Irma. Any veteran from Key West, Key Largo or Homestead can call 305-575-7666 or send a secure message with their My Health E Vet account to schedule care.

Monroe County veterans can also go to any retail pharmacy and pick up an emergency supply of their prescriptions with an eligible VA ID card.

If a Veteran is displaced, and has lost their medication and no longer has a written prescription or bottle, they can contact the Health Resources Center Disaster Hotline at 1 800 507 4571 to speak with a representative. The representative will qualify the request by asking a few questions and provide the Veteran with their prescription number. For more information on refilling prescriptions, please call the Miami VAHS Pharmacy at 305-575-3376.

— ALEX HARRIS

Here is the new reality for the Keys: ‘Very long time to get back to normal’

Sept 14, 8:30 a..m.: The Lower Keys — Big Pine, Little Torch, Summerland, Cudjoe and Sugarloaf — were among the hardest hit by Hurricane Irma.

The devastation caused after the massive eye passed over Cudjoe Key at daybreak Sunday as a Category 4 and the deluge of the storm’s surge that followed is difficult to fathom.

“The damage is immense,” said Big Pine Key resident Vivian Rubio, who stayed in her all-concrete house with her husband Danny throughout the storm. “This is going to take a very long time to get back to normal.”

Read the rest here.

— DAVID GOODHUE

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Boats block the Overseas Highway after Hurricane Irma surge tossed debris, boats, cars, sheds, and appliances onto the highway throughout the middle Keys, September 10, 2017. CHARLES TRAINOR JR ctrainor@miamiherald.com

‘We’re in here for the long haul:’ National Guard sets up Irma command in Keys

Sept 13, 8:40 p.m.: For Hurricane Irma’s victims, help comes in darkness.

Under a reddish half moon, 12 Army National Guard trucks rode across the Florida Keys.

They’ve come from all over the state, these busloads of soldiers, to bring food and water to the hardy — and perhaps foolhardy — few who stayed on the Keys while Irma unleashed her fury. And, most importantly they’ve brought themselves — strapping men ready to keep the peace, for as long as it takes.

Up to 30 days, their initial orders said. The Keys need them.

The Florida Guard has moved into Irma’s disaster zone, where functioning power outlets are rare, communications spotty and flushing toilets nonexistent. A Miami Herald reporter embedded with a convoy, which left Broward County on Tuesday night and arrived in the Middle Keys on Wednesday morning, to witness the massive logistical operation to slowly make the islands habitable again.

“Man,” one soldier said when the sun rose over Marathon. “It looks like a bomb went off here.”

Read the rest here.

— PATRICIA MAZZEI, EMBED WITH NATIONAL GUARD

Tensions flare at checkpoint as Florida Keys residents pine to go home

Sept 13, 8:00 p.m.: Tensions flared Wednesday afternoon at a police checkpoint as frustrated Florida Keys residents ran into a checkpoint in Islamorada blocking them from going to their homes in the Middle and Lower Keys.

Several cars loaded with families, pets and even elderly relatives who had evacuated pleaded with officers to let them through. Some residents waited for hours in the hot sun. Residents stopped at the checkpoint could go to Coral Shore High at Mile Marker 89 to spend the night. It was still unclear Wednesday evening when the public would be allowed to travel freely on the Overseas Highway, the only road in and out of the Florida Keys.

Read the rest here.

— DAVID OVALLE AND LARRY KAHN

Irma evacuees from Keys with special needs find shelter at FIU parking garage

Sept 13, 7:30 p.m.: Far away from the TV camera crews, in a room underneath Parking Garage No. 6 on the Florida International University campus, 33 Keys evacuees with special needs are being kept at a makeshift shelter, getting by with cots, a few bathrooms, boxed meals, raisins, cold Spaghettios, and an Italian greyhound chihuahua named Josie.

Another 80 are being housed at a pavilion at the Dade County Fairgrounds adjacent to the campus, along with hundreds of other evacuees. Some were homeless in the Keys. Others are residents of Florida Keys Outreach Coalition, which offers transitional and supportive housing for those in need.

They’ve been at FIU for a week — before, during and after Hurricane Irma — and they may have to stay there two weeks more. They wear colored wristbands with their bed numbers, carry belongings in black garbage bags, and their tales make losing power and internet access seem like minor inconveniences.

Read the rest here.

— MICHELLE KAUFMAN

If you live in the Keys or parts of Broward, your mail may not arrive but packages may.

Sept 12, 6:30 p.m.: With postal service still suspended after Hurricane Irma, private package delivery services have started dropping off items in South Florida.

The United Parcel Service resumed delivering packages in Miami-Dade and Broward counties Tuesday, though delivery is dependent on local curfews, said UPS spokesperson Matt O’Connor. While most areas in the counties are accessible, he said delivery is also dependent on whether the driver feels it is safe. Residents can check online to see if their home is in a delivery zone. Monroe County won’t be accessible for the forseeable future.

Read the rest here.

— CAITLIN OSTROFF

With no word from Keys after Irma, worried relatives turn to social media

Sept 12, 4:00 p.m.: They’ve created group Facebook pages to trade information. Some have scoured amateur and news video clips on Twitter for any familiar landmarks. Others have turned to calling and messaging reporters in the disaster zone.

For displaced Florida Keys residents and relatives of those stuck on the islands, the search for information about the effects of Hurricane Irma has become increasingly frustrating because all cell service and internet connections are down.

Read the rest here.

— DAVID OVALLE

Storm damage? Get some basic info together and apply now for FEMA assistance

Sept 13, 3:00 p.m.: Homeowners, renters and business owners in 37 Florida counties may now apply for federal disaster assistance for uninsured and under-insured damages and losses resulting from Hurricane Irma but, be warned, the process takes time.

Storm damage and losses from the hurricane and flooding must have occurred as a result of Hurricane Irma, beginning on Sept. 4.

The list of counties designated as of Wednesday to be eligible for federal aid under FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program includes: Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, DeSoto, Duval, Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Sumter and Volusia.

Read the rest here.

— MARY ELLEN KLAS

Worried about your home in the Florida Keys? Here’s a way to check it out

Sept 13, 1:30 p.m.: Although residents and business owners have been allowed to re-enter the upper Florida Keys following Hurricane Irma, access to the lower keys remains restricted south of Mile Marker 73.

Thanks to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, aerial views of much of the Florida Keys are available.

Read the rest here.

— GEORGE RICHARDS

Gov. Scott surveys damage in Keys as death toll rises to eight

Sept 13, 1:00 p.m.: Gov. Rick Scott toured the Florida Keys on Wednesday as the extent of the devastation from Hurricane Irma became clearer, with the death toll in the island chain rising to at least eight since Irma hit.

The governor surveyed the damage for the first time on foot, flying into Marathon via helicopter and then stopping at hard-hit Big Pine and Cudjoe Keys before departing from Key West.

None of the dead have been found by search-and-rescue teams, which have been going door-to-door. Monroe County authorities say six deaths have been caused by natural causes and two others directly by the Category 4 storm. Another 40 have been injured, 30 of them in Key West.

Read the rest here.

— PATRICIA MAZZEI

Keys bridges declared safe for travel. But other obstacles remain for a return

Sept 12, 7:00 a.m.: All 42 bridges that connect U.S. 1 from the mainland across the Florida Keys are safe for travel after a state inspection, Monroe County officials said.

The Florida Department of Transportation also repaired two stretches of the highway that had washed away during Hurricane Irma two days earlier — at mile marker 37 and mile marker 75 — and they are also ready for motorists.

Still, only the Upper Keys remained open to residents and business owners as the Lower Keys, including Key West, languished without power and cellphone service and food and fuel remained scarce.

Read the rest here.

— GWEN FILOSA

Can’t get back home to the Keys? Here’s the only shelter that will take you in

Sept 11, 9:00 p.m.: Hurricane Irma is gone, you live in the Florida Keys and you want to go back home.

Well, you can’t — not yet at least. The two roads entering Key Largo from Miami — U.S. 1 and Card Sound Road — are closed due to storm debris. Officials say it’s unclear when they will reopen.

If you don’t have friends or family you can stay with, you have one shelter available: The Darwin Fuchs Sunshine Pavilion (Tamiami Park) at 10901 Coral Way — 26 miles north if you take Florida’s Turnpike.

Read the rest here.

— MONIQUE O. MADAN AND DAVID GOODHUE

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