FLORIDA CITY (CBSMiami) — Florida Keys residents are playing a waiting game to get back home after Irma hit the area as a Category 4 hurricane on Sunday .
Dozens lined up on Chrome Avenue, where it ends at US-1, at the entrance of the 18 mile stretch Monday morning but authorities are not letting anyone go back in until they determine it’s safe.
“We know that Key Largo is clear, from all of our friends that are in that area. We’re trying to get in…but they’re not letting anybody in for some reason,” Bob Thomas with Key Largo Chocolates told CBS4’s Ted Scouten as he and his wife waited in the car to be let into the keys.
“We’re ready to get back to our shop which needs our attention and we were told that we have damage at our shop and we can’t get to it. It’s a little frustrating,” said Kristie Thomas.
One of those issues is a major concern for drinking and running water. Water has been out in the area since Sunday. Officials say it will take time to inspect their aqueduct and start-up the running water.
Crews from the local to federal level are working on getting down to the Florida Keys and if they need to, possibly have drinking water brought to residents.
Even getting through the keys is an issue. Some people who stayed in Key West were able to get up to Sugar Loaf Key. Sugar Loaf Key was hit pretty hard and is in ‘pretty bad shape,’ according to Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi.
Coming the other way from Key Largo, going South, that’s where there were also issues going down the keys. Once you got past Islamorada, there’s a lot of sand in the road.
Monroe County officials say residents need to wait for their safety – not only because of the water issue but also because of bridges.
“All the bridges need to be cleared by FDOT, that they’re passable and that they’re in good shape. The initial inspections seemed to be okay but we’re not the pros. They’re the pros,” said Gastesi.
Some Florida Keys residents who heeded evacuation warnings said the issue with getting back to their home is now making them think twice about leaving before a hurricane again.
“We’re going to stay next time,” said Bob Thomas. “We’ll ride it out there before we’ll leave and try to get back after.”
Some residents trying to get back in say they have been told to go to Homestead Speedway and wait for information.
CBS4’s David Sutta reports law enforcement has been severely limited in communications. The Monroe County Sheriffs Office got radios back late last night and it’s going in and out.