The newspaper says Hurricane Irma has set back tourism this winter by almost half so the county tourism people are planning an eight million dollar campaign to overcome the perception that the Keys are reduced to rubble like Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands. The deadline was set this week to clear debris off Highway One and along the Lower Keys they are doing pretty well:
Not so long ago that stretch of the shoulder on Ramrod Key was a giant unending heap of debris, a staging area for collection and removal. From below to above, it's gone:
It took lines of trucks to get stuff cleared away. It went on daily totalling apparently possibly four million cubic yards throughout the islands. Though how they measure it I'd don't know. By whatever standard they measure it was supposed to be five times the amount of trash generated by Hurricane Wilma in 2005 which in my memory was a breeze compared to this one.
My own main side street has been the collection point for trashed trailers at the Venture Out RV park and wrecked homes and their contents on the canals in the subdivision. Finally it's gone and now getting swept up.
It looked ghastly for months:
For visitors to Key West there's no reason to stay away as the city is almost unscathed except for a few pieces of trim here and there and a few trees and they are honestly not noticeable by their absence in the grand scheme of things. I haven't been up the Keys for a while but a friend in Marathon says things are looking pretty normal there these days. I intend to go look. I am steeling myself to check out Bahia Honda park and the back streets of Big Pine where the greatest damage was sustained but neither place is a reason to stay away from the Keys. Not now.