Recovery efforts are still under way in the Keys after Hurricane Ian swept through the area last week.
Mayor Teri Johnston joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about what’s happening in the city.
Considering the hurricane damage in the mainland of Florida, the Keys were relatively lucky.
Johnston said, “I thank our lucky stars. Although we had some people displaced and that certainly is very concerning. We are going to rebuild. We’re going to clean out our houses. We had storm surge. We had some wind damage, but we are certainly going to get some assistance and get that taken care of.”
About 100 people in the Keys had their homes affected by the storm, although that number seems to be rising.
Johnston said, “We had a housing authority project in Bahama Village that impacted about 93 homes, particularly taking out their appliances and how they function on a daily basis.”
Predictions are more than 150 homes were damaged as clean up continues and that will have a pretty significant impact on an area that was already struggling with available housing.
Johnston said, “I have been speaking all weekend with other government officials, particularly those who are associated with FEMA and have some impact on FEMA because we want to make sure that we are able to get reimbursed down here. Not only for debris pick-up, but also for individuals homes. So we have been working throughout the state and with our federal partners also all weekend to make sure that that happens.”
Initially, Monroe County wasn’t included in the counties that were granted FEMA assistance, but a lot of officials are working to see that some help is available.
Johnston said, “I think when you take a look at Key West and we’re a low-lying island. We’re also an island that just digs in and starts cleaning up. I’ve been amazed as I drive around town to see how much work people have done.”
Crews have been out as soon as it was safe to begin work on cleanup.
A disaster management company was also contracted to clean the streets.
Johnston said, “Every time we go through a weather event, you’re always just so proud to be in the Keys because we are prepared and we do anticipate that we’re going to have weather events and we all know that we’re a low lying area so I think people take precautions. I know that there were other areas that had higher winds and certainly higher storm surge, but we had some things that impacted our residents for sure. So we need to take care of those, get those repaired and rebuilt and continue to move on.”
Indeed, 150 homes with people displaced is about one percent of the housing stock.
Anyone who needs help should contact the United Way of the Florida Keys and Collier County.
Johnston said, “Bahama Village was hit very hard. They’re in dire need of some assistance.”
A Facebook page and donation area has been set up to get resources, food and money to Bahama Village. Appliances are also desperately needed.
SOS also assisted at the general housing shelter at the Douglas gym.
Johnston said, “I have been getting calls all weekend from people saying where can I donate? What can I do? How can I help? We have been sending them to those organizations.”
Additionally, KeysTalk 96.9/102.5M also has a list here: https://keysnewstalk.com/
Johnston said, “When you think about it, this couldn’t have hit at probably a worse time with our king tides and our king tides were exceptionally high this year. So you add that on to a storm surge and you’ve got a considerable amount of water coming on this island.
The City Commission will meet tomorrow evening where the agenda might be rearranged based on the priority of getting people back to functioning.