People still shoveling sand out of their living rooms and wading through the paperwork and insurance claims that have replaced the floodwaters of Superstorm Sandy don't need to be teased by alluring images of palm trees and sunshine in the Florida Keys.
It is for this reason the Monroe County Tourist Development Council this week announced changes to its advertising and marketing plans in the northeastern areas affected by Sandy.
"For victims, being exposed to Keys vacation advertising messages is not appropriate at this time," said TDC Director Harold Wheeler, while also acknowledging that the TDC still has a responsibility to ensure economic stability in the form of tourism for the island chain.
Ads have not been canceled, but postponed by a week in cities such as New York and Philadelphia. Also, a Keyswide cooperative ad, scheduled for The New York Times travel section was moved from a Nov. 11 publication date to Dec. 9, according to a press release drafted by the TDC and circulated by the Key West Chamber of Commerce.
"The TDC also has made some adjustments to its social media strategies," the release states. "On Monday it posted a message of hope and compassion for those in the Northeast and then temporarily suspended publishing pretty Keys weather-related images."
Social media postings are focusing primarily on upcoming events in the Keys.
"We must be sensitive to those who have been seriously impacted by this storm," Wheeler added. "At the present time, many are challenged to get electricity back, begin repairs to their homes and return their lives back to some semblance of normalcy."
Keys residents are particularly empathetic to the situation, as Oct. 25 marked the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Wilma, whose storm surge sent more than 3 feet of water through thousands of Florida Keys properties.
"I feel their pain," said one Key West woman in line at Winn-Dixie Friday. "We lost everything in Wilma, and it's absolutely overwhelming. Then I keep thinking at least we had nice, warm weather in the aftermath, but it's freezing up there. It would be like we were mocking them if the TDC kept showing them pictures of paradise."