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Published Tuesdays and Fridays. Letters to the editor with pictures.

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UPDATE Saturday, September 16, 10:52 am
[Re-entry Plan] MONROE COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ANNOUNCES RE-ENTRY PLAN FOR KEYS

Monroe County now is open to Marathon at Mile Marker 47, just north of the 7 Mile Bridge, for residents, business owners, disaster workers and supply vehicles.

The Lower Keys and Key West will open Sunday morning at 7:00 am, also to residents, business owners, disaster workers and supply vehicles.

A checkpoint in Florida City will remain in place to ensure only these groups are admitted to the Keys.  An additional checkpoint at Mile Marker 47 will control admittance to the Lower Keys and Key West.

For those re-entering, know that medical services, food, water, and electricity are extremely limited. There is no functioning hospital to admit patients in the Middle or Lower Keys. Fishermen’s Hospital in Marathon is not open and the Lower Keys Medical Center in Key West only has its Emergency Room open.

Returning residents should bring provisions and any necessary medications to sustain themselves for several days.

Residents returning to the hardest hit areas from MM 40 to MM 10 should know that services are almost non-existent. There is a heavy law enforcement presence in that area to prevent looting and provide security.

“This is one of the toughest decisions to make, but also an indicator of how well our recovery has been going since the Keys suffered a direct hit by Category 4 Hurricane Irma,” Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi said. “We know there will be many challenges ahead, especially for our hardest hit areas in the Lower Keys. But we want our residents and business owners to come back to rebuild their lives, their livelihoods and our economy. We are prepared to restore the Keys back to the special paradise we love.”

[Young Cates] Dad again. About 20% of electric power is restored from Keys Energy. Water is turned on from 10am-1pm and again from 5pm-8pm. This is NOT potable water. It should only be used for flushing toilets and bathing with soap. The pressure is very low. Water, Ice and food are coming and being given out at Searstown and the Bahama Village soccer field. The National Guard is helping with security. Gas stations are receiving fuel sporadically and when they receive It they open and sell it. Publix is opening today in Searstown to sell to the public. Strunk Hardware is opening at different times to sell to the public.
[Needs News] I lived in Big Pine 16 years, everyone there is like family to me. I’m desperately seeking info on all who stayed at US1 radio station on BPK (Sugarloaf), as well as Ed & Linda Siwek, Vera Lesick, Megan and Katie Lynn Wirth, Steve Miller, Donny Conchrite, Donny and Dottie Zimmerman, Gypsy, Marlo, Springer (Springers Bar and Grill) and Patrick, Gene and his girlfriend, Jeff Borden and his family, Doug and Kathleen, Mario Lopez, Sue Snitzel, and all of my other friends in Big Pine. Any info at all on their safety or otherwise will be greatly appreciated. I’m living in Oregon now and can’t get any news. I want to start a GoFundMe account to help everyone I can, and need to know their status for distribution of anything I may receive, including clothes.
[Craig Cates] As your mayor, I am informing you that the city of Key West is ready for its citizens to return. We are going to start the process on Sunday. We are working with the Monroe County Emergency Services. Details will be given as soon as they are available. The city website will list instructions for your return and for your property cleanup. There is a meeting tomorrow morning at 8:30 to shore up these details. Thank you for your continued patience as we begin the process of bringing the citizens home.
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UPDATE Saturday, September 16
[Keys Are Open] Friends, good news!  Today the middle keys will be opened starting at 9 am.  The final wave for the lower keys and Key West will be tomorrow at 8:30. I know that it has been a long time.  Please be advised that there is litttion, flashlights and other items that you would need to camp and repair damage.  Please drive carefully as there isle here for supplies.  Bring tarps, tools, generators, water, food, clothing, medica still debris all around, utility workers are everywhere and public safety vehicles are everywhere.  Please get to where you’re going and try to stay off the roads as fuel is limited and we need the roads for recovery units.  Water is limited so please do not start washing cars and other stuff or water may not be available for others.  If you use tap water, remember to boil it before you drink it.  Please be careful out there, thank you. ~Sheriff
And the Darwin Award goes to Dispatcher on scanner: Caller unhappy his power is out, threatening to climb power pole and ‘clear stuff off of it’ like the linesmen do.
Millions of tax dollars pissed away from elected officials and utility executives who couldn’t find their collective asses with either hand. Come election time THROW THE BASTARDS OUT. PARTICULARLY NEUGEANT RICE AND MURPHY. They got their Pork projects at the cost to the Lower Keys.

~From, E. E. Nanay Jr. Taxpayer, Homestead, 80% Disabled Veteran

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UPDATE #2   9/15/17     6:30 P.M. EOC Briefing – Hurricane Irma Recovery. MAYBE THE LAST UPDATE!

KEY WEST RESIDENTS (RESIDENTS IN 33040 ZIP CODE) EXPECTED TO RE-ENTER AS EARLY AS SUNDAY!!!! WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES! CHECKPOINT TO REMAIN AND EXPECTED MOVED TO SUNSHINE KEY- MILE MARKER 39. FINAL DECISION TO BE MADE SATURDAY MORNING BY 8:30 A.M. BRIEFING.

KEYS ENERGY- 50% of Key West neighborhoods have restored power. 30% of customers between Key West and Bay Point have power. Continued issues with checkpoints with service personnel. Communication problems with checkpoint. Plan to remove large pole at cow key channel bridge- north bound lanes to close tomorrow for removal of pole from 9:00 A.M. until 6:00 P.M. ONE LANE OUTBOUND AND ONE LANE INBOUND WILL BE AVAILABLE AT THE TRIANGLE DURING THIS TIME. Summerland- distribution pole is down, need crane to remove, requires a one hour system to be down for removal. A time is needed to be selected prior to noon on Sunday.

KEY WEST- Lots of meals – 1500 meals, hundreds of water bottles, 500 bags of ice, 900 people were serviced at two points of distribution. POTENTIAL FOR RETURN OF KW RESIDENTS – AFTER DISCUSSION WITH FKAA, SHERIFF, COUNTY OFFICIALS – BEGIN RETURN FOR KEY WEST RESIDENTS AS EARLY SUNDAY. LIMITED TO 33040 ZIP CODE. CITY WOULD NOT BE OPEN FOR VISITORS/TOURISTS. NEED TO GET RESIDENTS WHO HAVE HOUSING THAT IS HABITABLE GETTING BACK TO WORK. NEED TO WORK OUT WITH THE COUNTY HOW BEST TO FACILITATE WITH THE COUNTY. WE WANT TO DISCONTINUE THE DISPLACEMENT OF KEY WEST RESIDENTS AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.

MARATHON HAD INTENDED TO BRING RESIDENTS BACK ON SUNDAY. CONCERN ABOUT THE HIGHWAY AND TRAFFIC RETURNING BACK ESPECIALLY WITH RESPECT TO THE CHECKPOINTS. HOPEFUL TO HAVE A SHELTER PLAN IN PLACE, NOT IN PLACE NOW. FIRST 48-72 HOURS MAY NOT BE THE NEED FOR SHELTER AS MUCH AS A WEEK OUT.

FEMA ASSISTANCE LOCATED AT FIRE STATION #2 AT ANGELA AND SIMONTON STREETS. SECOND LOCATION MAY BE AT THE STUDIOS AT THE CORNER OF EATON AND SIMONTON STREETS.

FKAA – CAUTIOUS ABOUT RETURN OF RESIDENTS GIVEN THE INCREASED DEMAND AND CURRENT ABILITY TO SUPPLY WATER. TIMES FOR WATER IN KW START 7-9 AM, 11AM-1PM AND 5-10PM.

CHECKPOINT MAY BE MOVED TO SUNSHINE KEY, MILE MARKER 39.

SHERIFF- CURFEWS REMAIN IN PLACE.

Does anyone have concerns the grinder pumps might not survive after the storm surge?  Not just the individual pumps in people’s yards, what about the CRWS lift stations and force main pumps?
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[UPDATE #1 9/15/17] 8:30 A.M. EOC Briefing —Hurricane Irma Recovery Key West.
Prior to the briefing I had the opportunity to speak with City Manager Jim Scholl who expressed some very encouraging news: KEY WEST RE-ENTRY IS  LOOKING AT A MUCH EARLIER DATE THAN EXPRESSED YESTERDAY! THIS POSITIVE NEWS and MADE YESTERDAY’S PREDICTION OF A MONTH OR MORE SEEM COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT. Power restoration is moving very quickly thanks to the great efforts of Keys Energy. City employees have done an amazing job during the recovery effort. Food & water distributions continued yesterday with great success thanks to the delivery of the supply. Many thanks to the military for all their help.KEY WEST
NEED FOR HOSPITAL TO BE FUNCTIONAL, NEED GROCERY STORES TO OPEN AND NEED WATER. CITY CAN’T FEED ALL WHO MAY RE-ENTER. NEED ELECTRICAL SAFETY CERTIFIED IN THE NEIGHBORHOODS. NEED POWER TO BOIL WATER, OTHERWISE UNSAFE AND DANGEROUS TO DRINK THE WATER.JAIL WILL NEED TO REOPENED. EXPECTING TO WELCOME RESIDENTS BACK SOON.PUBLIX IS PARTIALLY OPERATIONAL —LIMITED SUPPLIES, BUT THEY HAVE EMPLOYEES NEED TO SUPPORT THE POPULATION WITH FOOD AND WATER THAT ARE IN KEY WEST NOW AND TRANSITION OFF FROM EMERGENCY PROVISIONS.

SHERIFFMaking great strides. Had power in Marathon and better water pressure in Marathon.

Roads are clear.

DISCUSSION ALLOWING RESIDENTS BACK IN TO MARATHON AND MOVING CHECKPOINT SOUTH. TIME TO BE DETERMINED AND WILL BE ANNOUNCED. STAND BY FOR ANNOUNCEMENT. COULD BE AS SOON AS SATURDAY.

MARATHON
MOVING RESIDENTS BACK MAY BE AS SOON — CITY TO MAKE FINAL DECISION LATER TODAY. ELECTRIC CO-OP NEEDS TO CERTIFY THAT CITY IS SAFE. NEED SHELTERING PLAN WITH RED CROSS. NEED UP TO 2000 PEOPLE TO HAVE SHELTER. WHEN PEOPLE RETURN, SOME WILL FIND THEIR HOMES UNINHABITABLE AND WILL REQUIRE SHELTER.

CHECKPOINT will be moved to Seven Mile Bridge on Saturday- time to be determined.

FKAA WATER
Water is for sanitation use only. Maintaining pressure to Marathon at this point.

[UPDATE 5:42] More f**king hurricanes coming. Link
With the Key West Citizen out of commission and apparently making no effort to produce some kind of online issue and US1 radio similarly dropping the ball, I’m surprised the Coconut Telegraph hasn’t taken the lead in daily editions of the blog. I know you have suffered losses like the rest of us but you have a unique platform to disseminate information which I was anxious to see used.

Anyway good luck to you and all of us rebuilding our lives.  Hopefully between insurance claims, FEMA assistance and fund raising we can return to normal once again. (Ed: I’ve been more concerned with saving our asses than anything else. Up here in America we’ve had no power or wifi. Both have been on and off. Thursday was the first time we had reliable wifi that’s why I published yesterday special edition. As it is, no one in the Keys can read this now.)

I wish the Sheriff Dept had spent more money on communications instead of buying more helicopters.
Such devastation. People please take photos regardless of insurance. Here’s info on FEMA claims if you don’t have proper insurance. Link
Good Morning-Please call me at 305-394-3554 and I can see if we insure any of the properties. Thank you.  ~Jolene Allen, Johnsons Insurance

You can report a claim to our emergency number in our Longwood office 877-264-2519.

Once you have reported the claim, an adjuster will be contacting you directly. You will have to report a claim so it will be important that you have someone look at your home to see if it has been damaged and try to stop and further damage like getting the water out and tarping your roof, if you can.

Do not fix anything until and adjuster has seen your damaged property and you should take pictures if you need to do something to stop further damage.

 

 

(Ed: After we get our wifi back in the Keys I’m going to stomp on this crappy laptop that continually makes the courser skip around the page. It’s maddening trying to do anything on this #@$%& machine. I hate it. Hate, hate, hate!)

My name is Devondra and I work for the American Red Cross. I was looking to get more information on the elected officials in Sugarloaf Key and Ramroad [Ramrod] Key, are you someone that could give me that information?

 

I rode the storm out at my sisters condo development which buried all its electric lines. We had power water and cable throughout the storm. Maybe that idea needs to be reconsidered after this mess

Uncertainty, the unknown, and change all suck.  I can’t imagine the wait to see your home again. Be grateful you and yours are safe. The key for having success is totally rejecting thoughts that try to sow doubts into your conscience.  Love & Peace. This too shall pass. Hang in Dear Friend.  ~Jeannie
It’s pretty cool to see the Telegraph playing such an important role at this critical time for BPK. Hang in there.  ~Washington D.C.

(Ed: Thanks Donald, I thought you only Tweeted!This will probably be the last time we publish because we’re going to try to head back down tomorrow, Saturday.)

[Claims] Please give me the full name the policy is under. Thank you,
Linda Rae deGinder, CIC, CPSR,  Agency Manager
The Johnsons Insurance Agency
13361 Overseas Highway,Marathon, Fl 33050
linda@johnsonsinsure.com305-289-0213
And now the real nightmare begins. Dealing with the insurance companies, FEMA and local authorities.
[“US1 radio dropping the ball”] What I meant was that it wasn’t available to listen to on iHeartRadio.  I heard they did broadcast locally, but it’s the people outside their area that needed the info too.
[Anger At The Ballot Box] Please remember the elected commissioners and Sheriff next election. Show them your displeasure with not being allowed into your homes because the road is dangerous. The entire Sheriff’s department and EOC lost communications with the outside world. The Sheriff’s Department has satellite phones, but only one was activated because of cost. This is the cost of doing things on the cheep and turning money back into the coffers for political gain instead of investing in the public welfare and deputies’ safety.
UWFK’s Irma Relief fund will be distributed to smaller nonprofits throughout Monroe County who may not have the capacity to generate their own funds. With your support, we can help rebuild communities. Our focus will be on mid- and long-term recovery. This is part of United Way’s ongoing work to support community rebuilding, a role we play after first responders’ work is done.

Currently, the funding raised by UWFK will be distributed between 16 organizations that are currently or were formerly UWFK community partners.These organizations work closely with our Keys residents throughout the year and will be crucial in assisting our community in rebuilding during the next several months. Link

[Claims] Now it begins. All the relief agencies and insurance companies getting our hopes up, making us fill endless forms and having us provide endless documents only to be told they’ll do nothing for us. That’s what happened after hurricane Wilma.

As you know, heart disease kills hundreds of thousands of Americans every year. And since this illness can affect people based on all kinds of factors, ranging from lifestyle choices to chronic health conditions, there’s not one, easy way to address this crisis at a widespread level. Luckily, there are a lot of things we can all do individually to help ensure we’re living heart-healthy. Link
This, below, was published Thursday, September 14 as a Special Edition because the wifi came back on up here in refugee land and I didn’t know if it would stay on.
Thursday, September 14, 2017
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[No Utilities, Ha!] In the past I lived for two years on Big Pine Key without water, phone or electricity. I am one of the original Pineoneers living in the woods under the radar. Now the asses with the guns are telling me I can’t go home because there’s no water, phone or electricity and there might be a wire in the road. Well, if they haven’t moved the wire by now they are the ones who need help. I’m pissed. I’ll never evacuate again. The not knowing is excruciating.

[Irma Registry] Would you consider having some sort of registry for Irma survivors on Big Pine Key? I have friends that stayed in their house at 61 Cunningham Ln and have not been able to contact them. It would be great if you could facilitate a way for people to find out the status of their loved ones

[Up To Date Images]This url will give you the latest NOAA overview of Big Pine. Just open it and keep enlarging like on Google Earth. It works the same way and you can view any street. Hope this helps.

https://storms.ngs.noaa.gov/storms/irma/index.html

[Shit Everywhere] So I guess the sewer pumps are a mote point now.
[Windstorm Insurance] Citizen’s Property Insurance will come into the Keys Thursday to set up a base camp. The location and hours of operation will be announced soon.
[No Re-entry] I hope you all make it back, what with all the tin-pot dictators telling everybody to ‘stand down’ and ‘go back until it’s safe’

We can’t get back to Big Pine Key. When we can, we plan on using a 3×1.5 ft solar panel to charge my two boat batteries that I’ll connect to an inverter to charge my many 18v batteries that run lights and tools. Fans will plug into the 110v inverter. I’ve lived in the middle of the Key Deer Refuge for 40 years and a few of them without water or electricity. All you really need is a fan, reading light and ice. Everything else is a luxury (we’re counting on FEMA for the ice).

Excellent satellite imagery of the Florida Keys devastation. Tap on the keys to keep enlarging.

https://storms.ngs.noaa.gov/storms/irma/index.html

[Debris in the Road] In Key West, 80 percent of the roads are cleared of debris and it’s expected all streets will be passable soon. Debris removal to follow.

In Key Largo, New York Task Force 2 has worked with the Key Largo Volunteer Fire Department on search and rescue and moving debris.

In Islamorada, debris has been removed from all the side streets into a single path to make it possible to travel them. Debris removal will begin by Saturday

Isaksen-2.2016
[No Evacuation] I’ll never evacuate again. It’s a crime for the do-gooders to refuse us entry to our homes.

[Getting Back home] Those pink re-entry decals aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

[Curfew] The dusk-to-dawn curfew will remain in place until further notice. “Any citizen out moving around at night will be stopped by law enforcement and will be sent home,”

 

 

[Jersey Girls] Remember it’s too early to let your guard down about the rest of hurricane season.

Such devastation. People, please take photos regardless of insurance. Here’s info on FEMA claims if you don’t have proper insurance. (oops, no link)
[Re-entry Denied] I’ve been around the world by myself and have even been to Honduras and Liberty City and have survived it all. Telling me I can’t go home because the Keys are unsafe is ludicrous. Liberty City is unsafe!
Angelica here from Jake Tapper’s show at CNN – I saw your website and I’m happy to see you’re doing OK.

Wanted to reach out to see if you can assist in seeing if you or a member of your community you might be in touch with could join our show for a quick phone interview, we don’t want to take up much of anyone’s time during this tragic event.

Please feel free to give me a call to discuss further: 202-527-2230

~Thank you, Angelica

[Water] The Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority also has made significant progress. The main transmission line is intact. It has been plugging leaks and is now getting pressure from Upper Keys to Marathon. Numbers are not known at this time, but several neighborhoods in the Upper Keys have water.

From 10 a.m. to noon tomorrow, Key West will have water from stored supplies and an old plant.

There is still a precautionary boil water notice in effect for all of the Keys.

Johnsons-7.7.16
[Evacuate] I didn’t evacuate during any hurricane of the past twenty years because i knew ‘they’ wouldn’t let homeowners return. I succumbed to peer pressure this time and left. It was a mistake. Never again unless they can guarantee they’ll let us return immediately after the storm passes. Let us take responsibility for our own safety. I didn’t get this old by relying on others
[Big Pine & Lower Keys Rotary] Fellow Keys Residents, During this very trying time,  we must all pull together to do the most good, to provide support and to figure out how to move forward.  As services begin to come back on line and our neighbors return to the Keys, we will keep in mind our Rotary mission:  Service above self.

I know our President; Steve Miller is busy helping in whatever ways he can; I wish I were there to do the same.  I am awaiting re-entry instructions – when we return, we will bring as much as we can in the way of supplies, food, water, etc.  In the meantime, everyone stay safe, be patient and stay in touch with one another.

Sending healing thoughts.  ~Susan K. Miller

 

[Safe] Deer Ed, Glad to hear you and your family are safe. Always remember stuff can be replaced, lives can’t.

[Irma Registry] Would you consider having some sort of registry for Irma survivors on Big Pine Key? I have friends that stayed in their house at 61 Cunningham Ln and have not been able to contact them. It would be great if you could facilitate a way for people to find out the status of their loved ones
[Sewers] “Of interest. Sewers in KW are discussed off and on.  No mention of sewers in the Lower Keys.  This may be a statement in itself.”

Of course it’s a statement. But not every one of the grinder pumps will have to be replaced or checked and many of the control boxes mounted chest high will likely need the same. I think the main reason they’re not letting residents in is that they know the CRWS is trashed.  They never mention that or that Irma made landfall right at the plant.

After other storms they let people in much sooner, power or not, but we had septic systems then. Probably there were no generators operable on the lift stations either, not that it matters to those people who have inoperable flooded grinder pumps.

Call it what it is, an environmental and health emergency as well

[Electricity] Florida Keys Electric Coop, which services the Upper Keys to the end of the Seven Mile Bridge, has fully energized its main transmission line and all its substations and is working on feeder lines to the neighborhoods. There is a base camp at Founders Park in Islamorada for the contracted crews.

The Co-op reports about 30 percent of its customers have power and are bringing more people online each day.

[Lost Contact] Just because you can’t find someone is no indication that something is wrong. Rember there is no communications in the Keys, everything is out, phones, electricity, wifi.
Please, looking for you: Jim Oettle, Killdeer Lane! ~Julie.meyer@redcross.org

 

[Sewers] In Key West, the sewer treatment facility is now functioning. Anyone with running water or a bucket of water will be able to flush.

[Electricity] There still is no power in the Lower Keys. Keys Energy Service that handles the rest of the Keys coverage area is making good progress. They are expecting to be able to bring power to Key West in a few days. The hardest hit areas around Big Pine Key and Cudjoe Key will take longer. There is about 300 downed power poles, which take time to replace.
Big Pine Key Winn Dixie’s Weekly Ad
The Winn-Dixie and Publix grocery stores opened today in Key Largo with limited hours. (Wednesday)

 

I am a journalist writing a story for InsideClimate News on how people are using solar post-Irma to get some electricity. Could be generators, batteries, etc. Was wondering if you knew of anyone or could tell me more about how/if people are using solar and maybe even connect me with someone.
~Lyndsey Gilpin 502-468-1963

My Dad and his wife lived on Big Pine Key for a long time. I’m making sure you had this video. Sorry for all you are going through.
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