Florida Keys, FL — In the wake of Hurricane Irma impacting the Florida Keys, infrastructure evaluations and restoration efforts have begun, Keys officials said Tuesday.
While residents and business owners were permitted back into the Upper Keys on Tuesday, visitors have been asked to postpone any near-term plans to vacation in the island chain.
Some areas of the Keys are likely to be ready to accommodate visitors before another. An exact reopening date for all regions is not yet known, but Key West city officials expect their island will open by Fantasy Fest, the annual costume and masking festival that is set to start Friday, Oct. 20.
Both Keys airports’ runways are available for aircraft, but commercial service to Key West International Airport has been suspended until electricity and water have been restored. Charter and general aviation at Florida Keys Marathon International Airport are suspended until further notice. The airports are being used as incoming staging areas for relief supplies and personnel.
Travelers who had near-term reservations should contact their airlines and hotels to change plans.
Some regions of the Keys were impacted more than others and damage at Keys accommodations’ facilities varies from no impacts, except for landscaping, to severe damage because of storm surge. Assessments are still being executed, but it is believed that most tourism facilities will return to operations soon after the restoration of power, water and communications.
The Florida Department of Transportation has inspected all spans on the Florida Keys Overseas Highway and deemed them safe. A few locations of the highway are being repaired due to storm surge and those repairs should be completed by Thursday.
The Keys are currently under a dusk-to-dawn curfew.