Hurricane Irma is fading into history for most of the residents of Key West. This town is up and running and back to normal. Visitors have to search to find visible damage. It is a different story up the road in the middle Keys. Big Pine, Summerland, Marathon and some other are still hurting. Honestly, it may be a year or more before they get back to normal, (if anything in the Keys is really "normal"). At this point, the best thing people can do to help is plan a vacation or if you already have one planned, don't cancel it. Key West is back to being "Key West"! it's what we're good at
This will probably be my final "Hurricane Irma Update". At this point, talking about Irma is like talking about last weeks catch.
The Clean-up of Key West and the lower Keys continues as crews are working at an amazing pace to clean up the remaining debris. Visitors would have a difficult time comprehending the mess Key West started dealing with a month ago. Repeat visitors to Key West will notice homes and buildings they never saw before because of trees that are no longer there expose them to view, but if it's your first visit or you haven't been here if a few years, you would be hard pressed to find any "devastation" to take pictures of. Still a few boats askew in the shallows, and a few house boats at the City Marina on the bottom, but Old Town Key West is up and running as "Normal" as Key West gets.
Fantasy Fest was this past weekend and we had a little rain but even that didn't dampen the spirit of the locals and visitors that came to celebrate. The rain was associated with a small Tropical Storm, Philippe, which formed and fizzled quickly. The last week, we have had 2 Cold Fronts push through the Keys, (the rest of the country would just call them Cool Fronts). Basically this means we are done with Tropical weather for the year. Cold Fronts are high pressure systems and even a very mild high pressure will steer a tropical system, or low pressure system away. 2017 was a very tough Hurricane season no doubt, but time to move forward.
The middle Keys, which bore the brunt of Irma, are still struggling and working on cleaning up. My hear goes out to our middle Keys brethren. I don't want to belittle their struggle or need, but folks in the middle Keys are also a tough resilient group and they are working hard and they will recover.
All we need now is a bitter cold winter.......to give everyone around the country and elsewhere a reason to visit Key West for some fun in the sun!
Life is getting back to normal in Key West. Most of the bars and restaurants are open, (even though many close this time of year even when we don't have a hurricane). Town is still pretty quiet, but then again, this is the "quiet" time of year. Old Town is in good shape, streets are easily passable, but there are many open spaces where big old trees used to be. Power and water is 99% restored in Key West and most of the Lower Keys. Most hotels are opened, while a few seem to have taken this opportunity to do some preplanned renovations. Most of the Guest Houses I know of are open and have rooms available. The Zombie Bike Parade, Goombay & Fantasy Fest are coming up fast, at the end of the month. To anyone worried that the misperception of mass destruction in Key West will have a negative impact, remember that the whole Caribbean got clobbered by hurricanes this year, from Harvey, to Irma to Maria. Key West fared much better than most. We got power and water up quickly and the debris removal is cranking along at a feverish pace. I'm personally looking forward to a great "Season", as we are one of the only Tropical destinations in the Caribbean not suffering. My heart goes out to the other areas hit worse than Key West, including the Middle Keys. KEY WEST STRONG - Here's to quick recovery and everyone getting life back on track....close to Paradise but far from normal....
As everyone, (not living in a cave) knows by now, the Florida Keys took a pretty big hit from Hurricane Irma. The Middle Keys, Marathon, Big Pine, Summerland and Cudjoe keys took the worst of it as the eye passed directly over or just west of these keys. Key West actually got very "lucky" and I use the term loosely. We were on the west side of the eye. This was the weaker side of the storm. While there were some homes and businesses with structural damage, and many boats lost, the vast majority of the damage I've seen has been downed trees. The fishing fleet at Charter Boat Row did very well all things considered. Some freezers and ice machines lost or damaged and a whole bunch of bait gone bad, but other than a few canvas tops, an out rigger or two and a couple of windows, all the boats are intact. All things considered, the fleet got very lucky. Charter Boat Row is a very well protected body of water and most of the boat owners are experienced at tying up their boats for severe weather, but being on the west side of the eye, even just by 25 miles or so, probably made a major difference in the level of destruction or lack thereof for both the fleet and the city in general. The Utility workers, both those that live in Key West and those that came from out of town or out of state, have done an amazing job getting services back up. Most of Key West had full power and water restored and many of the hotels and guest houses are available for visitors. I watched the weather channel show a devastated trailer park in Islamorada on the news for 3 days and listened to them say it was typical of the damage all up and down the keys. This is simply not true. Granted there are many, many people that lost homes, in no way am I trying to minimize the losses, but the homes in Key West, on the west side of the eye, fared much better than mobile homes in the eye or on the stronger east side of the storm. The Keys, including Key West look brown. Part is dead foliage and part are "naked" trees. 100+mph winds will tend to blow all the leaves off a tree. But it will come back. Some of my trees are already sprouting new leaves. Nature will heal itself and Key West will also. I know I am one of the lucky ones. I suffered almost no damage and my cleanup is almost complete and the Southbound will be ready to go after today. Anyone visiting Key West be advised some services may be limited, some of your favorite restaurants may have limited menus and some of your favorite bars may not have your brand............on second thought, check that last caution. This is Key West, even a Cat 4 hurricane isn't going to stop the bars from pouring a libation. Be it for a local, a tourist or one of the many hard working relief workers that came to help. After all, this is a “drinking town” with a bad fishing habit. Key West may not be 100% just yet, but we are open for business and getting better every day
Thanks to all who called, texted and emailed to check on me. I got very lucky in the storm. Virtually no damage to my home or the boat. Started putting the Southbound back together and getting ready to fish yesterday. Should be ready to go as of Wednesday. Key West still recovering, but we are open for business. Time to try to move forward