‘Long Road to Go': Officials Talk Irma Relief in Florida Keys

Initial estimates show 20 percent of Florida Keys homes "are not livable right now"

With the lower Florida Keys reopened, residents were trying to get back to business as usual Monday though there's some serious cleanup that needs to be done first.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price visited Monroe County Monday to discuss the Keys recovery efforts after Hurricane Irma.

"We've got a long road to go, we've got activity that will be occurring here on the recovery side for months," Price said at a news conference.

Initial estimates show 20 percent of Florida Keys homes "are not livable right now," Martin Senterfitt, Monroe County's director of emergency management said.

Large numbers of people in the badly-damaged Keys are still in the dark, with nearly 30 percent of homes and businesses in Monroe County without power.

More than 19,000 Keys households have registered for disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Monroe County officials tweeted Monday morning.

Monroe County remains closed to anyone who is not a Keys resident or is working in official capacity with the hurricane relief effort. In order to pass the checkpoint at Florida City, at least one occupant in a vehicle must show proof of residence, either through a photo ID with a local address, or a photo ID and a utility bill, rental agreement or some other document that shows residency in the Keys.

A curfew also remains in effect for Monroe County, with the Florida City checkpoint closing at 8 p.m. In the Upper Keys and Middle Keys, to mile marker 47 (north end of the Seven Mile Bridge), the curfew is 10 p.m. to sunrise. In the Lower Keys and Key West, it remains dusk to dawn.

The Florida Department of Health has also issued a boil water notice for all of the Keys due to flooding and damage caused by Irma.

"We want to welcome you back to the Keys but I also want to tell you at the same time, when you evacuated, you're not coming back to the same Keys that you left," Monroe County Mayor George Neugent said in a video posted to Twitter Sunday night.

Meanwhile, many across South Florida are looking to do their part for the Keys, including Rotary clubs, which gathered supplies to fly down to Key West. The cargo plane loaded with supplies left Opa-locka Airport Monday morning.

Rotaries in South Florida were not alone in efforts to help the Keys. Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz and other groups came together to send several truckloads of supplies to those in need.

"We're so blessed and lucky to not be in the same place that they are right now, and it could've been us. It was simple movement of this monster storm that could've hit us head on as a four or maybe a five," Diaz said.

The trucks took off early Monday with a police escort.

"We've done our part already for our local people. Now it's time to help our neighbors, and that's what we're doing today," Diaz said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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