Sept. 29, 2022 - FLORIDA KEYS — Major Florida Keys & Key West infrastructure remains intact throughout the 125-mile-long island chain, with Key West International Airport reopening to commercial service Thursday morning after tropical storm-force winds and storm surge from Hurricane Ian impacted the island chain Tuesday and Wednesday.
Visitors should check directly with airlines to confirm flight availability, said Monroe County Airports Director Richard Strickland. Airlines Allegiant, American, Delta, Jet Blue, Silver and United offer daily nonstop flights to Key West.
The Florida Keys Overseas Highway, including all 42 bridges, is open, said Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay.
The most impacted area of the contiguous Keys island chain seems to be Key West, where many roads flooded because of storm surge or are impassible due to fallen trees, according to Alyson Crean, the city’s public information officer. Water levels are receding and Crean said it will take a few days for Key West Community Services and Florida Department of Transportation personnel to finish removing debris from streets. She added that most primary visitor areas of the city would likely be restored by the end of Thursday.
Of interest to visitors:
- Throughout the Keys the freshwater delivery system is fully operational, reported Greg Velez, the deputy director of the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority.
- As of Thursday morning, Keys Energy Services had fewer than 400 of 30,000 customers awaiting restoration of power, according to CEO Lynne Tejeda. She projected full restoration of the utility’s power grid, which serves the Lower Keys and Key West, by late Thursday afternoon. The Florida Keys Electric Cooperative has power to 100% of its customer base from northern Key Largo to the Seven Mile Bridge in Marathon, according to CEO Scott Newberry.
- Almost all Keys lodging establishments escaped significant storm impact and are open, tourism officials reported.
- Keys state parks, attractions, venues, watersports operations, restaurants and bars are reopening, although hours and offerings may be limited. Visitors should contact each venue directly.
- The Port of Key West is likely to fully reopen by the end of Thursday, according to David Ambos of U.S. Coast Guard Sector Key West.
The National Hurricane Center discontinued a tropical storm warning as well as storm surge warnings and watches for the Keys late Wednesday afternoon.
No mandatory visitor or resident evacuation orders were issued by Monroe County’s emergency management office because sustained hurricane-force winds were not forecasted for the region.
Florida Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com or 800-FLA-KEYS
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Andy Newman/Carol Shaughnessy