Brandon Lopez

Residents and Business Owners of Lower Keys Allowed to Return

On Sunday, Monroe officials gave all residents and businesses owners of the Lower Keys the green light to return.

Although conditions are nothing like they used to be Pre-Irma, many business owners are already hard at work rebuilding.

“I know tourism is going to pick up here,” said Cissy Bourzikos, a bartender. “It’s Key West!”

It’s that positive spirit that you’ll find up and down Duval Street. On Sunday, residents were still partying.

Lower Keys homeowners returned after Hurricane Irma’s mandatory evacuation. Despite the toppled trees and smashed SUV’s, many businesses are pushing to reopen. Employees like Cissy say they have to pay the bills.

“We are a tourism based economy for sure. I need it and it all trickles down,” said Cissy.

Instead of pouring drinks, Jim Gilleran is picking up a leaf blower. He owns 801 Bourbon Bar and posted a Duval Street cleanup sign right on the front door. The most important requirement – a great attitude.

“Don’t cancel your tours or your trips, because we’re going to be up and running as you can see already,” said Gilleran. “We’ve got a lot of power restored.

The once lush and plentiful Gardens Bed and Breakfast on Angela Street are looking more like a swamp after Irma.

The tranquil getaway is closed until further notice, as the mold and mildew cleanup continues.

Meanwhile at Key West International Airport, there’s an empty tarmac but a packed terminal. It’s home base for the National Guard. Their top priority is distributing water and Ready-To-Eat Meals up and down the Keys. Tourists trying to fly in and out might have to wait until October.

“This one is going to be extra stressful from now on,” said Mitchell Jones, who works at the airport. “Just be patient.”

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