Helping the Keys Recover from Hurricane Irma
Hurricane Irma, a Category 4 storm, struck Cudjoe Key 20 miles north of Key West on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2017, with wind gusts in excess of 150 mph and a 10-foot tidal surge. The devastation was widespread, with roads washed out, cell towers downed and water mains broken.
Monday morning the agency received a call from the Monroe County administrator. He wanted a website to facilitate Keys recovery efforts — NOW!
In an all-hands-on-deck mode, the agency ramped up its web-production team, and by Tuesday, we had secured KeysRecovery.org, created a logo and had a live website online. Wednesday the site received 76,000 visitors. For the next two months visits would be as high as 110,000 per day as the site became a clearinghouse for essential recovery information.
In addition to the website, the agency also managed Keys Recovery–branded Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
KeysRecovery.org provided ongoing updates on the status of food, water, electricity and other services from the Monroe County Emergency Management Operations Center. The site also included interactive links where residents could post that they were OK and their location, where family and friends could post queries about residents’ status and whereabouts, and where businesses and organizations with services and supplies could contact the EOC to coordinate assistance.
In addition, the site provided information on gas station, grocery store and pharmacy openings, as well as hospital facilities, debris removal and other county services as they came online. The site remained active until February 2018, when most essential services had been restored in the Lower Keys.