September 13, 2017

As the confirmed death toll in the Florida Keys reached eight Wednesday, Monroe County Mayor George Neugent and FEMA estimated that more than 90 percent of homes in the Keys sustained damage or were destroyed.

Neugent estimated the damage to be “hundreds of millions of dollars” if not $1 billion.

“FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) estimated that 90 percent of homes were damaged. I think it is more like 95 percent,” Neugent said. Neugent toured the Lower Keys, going as far as the Bay Point community near mile marker 15.

“The Lower Keys have been hammered,” Neugent said. “Marathon pales in comparison. The destruction is amazing.”

Of the eight deaths, six are in the unincorporated area of the county and the rest were in Key West, according to county officials. Of the 40 injured, 30 were in the county and 10 in Key West, according to county officials.

Keys Energy Service has yet to send power to all areas of Key West and the Lower Keys.

“The TIELINE energized into Key West. Three priority electrical feeders are in and holding in Key West. The three are (Key West International Airport, the hospital (Lower Keys Medical Center) and grocery stores,” according to Keys Energy Services Facebook page.

The agency hopes to have power restored to all areas from Key West to Big Coppitt Key within seven to 10 days, if not sooner, the agency stated. It could be a month for the rest of its service area, which runs from Key West to the Seven Mile Bridge.

Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA) continues to work on restoring water to all areas of the county and Keys cities. The agency has been turning on water from 10 a.m. to noon every day from Key West to Key Haven. The agency plans to extend the hours from 5 p.m. to 7p.m. each night, city of Key West spokeswoman Alyson Crean said.

The Coast Guard has maintained a “safe area” around the Keys to keep people from entering the Keys by boat. Officials have only allowed residents who live at mile marker 77 to the 18 Mile Stretch to return so far.

Cell service began to be restored in Key West on Wednesday.

The military has been flying in food and provisions into Key West International Airport.

Key West Police Department has been knocking on doors and conducting welfare checks. They have not entered sealed homes, Crean said.