The latest updates on recovery efforts in the beautiful string of Floridian islands.
Like all Southerners, we were saddened to learn how devastated Hurricane Irma left the Florida Keys. After remaining closed to visitors since the catastrophic storm made landfall on September 10th, the Florida Keys & Key West Tourism Development Council have shared that the islands will reopen to tourists on Sunday, October 1st.
"The effort to get our primary infrastructure up and running has been incredible," Harold Wheeler, director of the Florida Keys tourism council told Southern Living. "We still have tourism-related businesses out there recovering, but we're at a state where we know that we have a good range of accommodations, attractions, restaurants and other services to begin asking visitors to return."
WATCH: What Happens When Your Cruise Gets Stuck in a Hurricane
According to a press release from Florida Keys & Key West, although Key Largo and Key West were least impacted by Irma, not all accommodations in these areas and beyond are open to visitors quite yet. Since some hotels are being used to house displaced residents through FEMA, or may be closed due to other issues, it’s best to call ahead before your trip. The same applies if you are interested in visiting a specific attraction or restaurant during your visit.
“In addition, recovery efforts are ongoing, especially in the Lower Keys and parts of Marathon where many residences and businesses were hardest hit by the storm,” the statement continues. “Motorists should use extreme caution when navigating these regions and stay off side roads to avoid hindering restoration activities. Throughout the Keys there are significant debris piles that are being picked up by cleanup contractors.”
As of Tuesday, September 26th, almost all power and water have been restored from Key Largo through Marathon, as well as throughout Stock Island and Key West. Cell service works, but officials share that restoration of Comcast cable television and internet is not yet complete. Key West International Airport and the Florida Keys Marathon International Airport are back to business as usual.
For the latest information on recovery efforts and more information on how you can help, visit keysrecovery.org.