KEY LARGO (CBSMiami) – As search and rescue teams go door to door in the hardest hit areas of the lower Keys, including Big Pine Key and Cudjoe Key, so far they’ve found eight people who died trying to ride out Hurricane Irma.
Two of the deaths occurred in Key West. The other 6 occurred in other parts of the county. The deaths are both storm-related and due to natural causes.
There also were 40 people injured during the storm. Of those, 10 occurred in Key West and the rest in other parts of the County.
Monroe County Sheriff’s Col. Lou Caputo said they are expecting to cover about 90 percent of the hardest hit areas by the end of Wednesday. The search teams have not entered shuttered homes at this time.
Contrary to initial reports, there have been no assessments to accurately determine the percentage of damage. Monroe County has one of the strongest building codes in the country.
“Things look real damaged from the air, but when you clear the trees and all the debris, it’s not much damage to the houses,” said Monroe County Commissioner Heather Carruthers in a statement.
Carruthers, who lives in Key West, said all that was wrong with her house built in 1889 was downed shutters.
Monroe County Emergency Management Director Martin Senterfitt reports that C-130s have been taking off and landing constantly with resources including food and water.
The state’s department of transportation has inspected all of the Keys 42 bridges along U.S. 1 and they are all safe for travel. They also repaired two stretches of U.S. 1 that washed away, at MM 75 and MM 37.
“Now it is safe to travel throughout U.S. 1,” FDOT reports.
Mariners Hospital in Tavernier has opened its emergency room and Disaster Medical Assistance Teams have arrived and set up in Key West, the Florida Keys Community College and the City of Marathon Park.
Two food and water distribution centers have been set up in Key West. One is at the Sears Town Plaza in New Town and the other is in Bahama Village in Old Town. Two other distribution sites are in the works at Sugarloaf School and the National Key Deer Refuge office on the Overseas Highway in Big Pine Key.
Gas remains scarce in the Keys. But gas stations are beginning to open up to the public, especially in the Upper Keys.
In Key West, 80 percent of the roads are cleared of debris and it’s expected all streets will be passable soon.
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.
In Key West, the sewer treatment facility is now functioning. Anyone with running water or a bucket of water will be able to flush.
“Every day, every hour goes by with more progress,” said Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi.
Florida Keys Electric Coop, which services the Upper Keys to the end of the Seven Mile Bridge, says about 30 percent of its customers have power and they’re bringing more people online each day.
Keys Energy Services, which covers the South end of Seven Mile Bridge to Key West, reports that about 7 percent of their clients now have service. This includes power to the Monroe County Assisted Living Facility, whose generator had failed.
Crews are working up to Sugar Loaf at about MM 17. Keys Energy is expecting the arrival of more crews to work in the hardest hits area, which include Big Pine Key and Cudjoe Key. There are about 300 downed power poles, which take time to replace.
Water is also a problem. The Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority says their main line is intact and they’ve been busy plugging leaks. Several neighborhoods in the Upper Keys have water. Most of the homes and businesses not receiving water in the Upper and Middle Keys is mostly due to broken lines in people’s yards that were were ripped up by fallen trees.
There is still a precautionary boil water notice in effect for all of the Keys.
Key West International Airport and Florida Keys Marathon International are open for emergency response flights. They remain closed until further notice for commercial flights and general aviation.
The Winn-Dixie and Publix grocery stores opened Tuesday in Key Largo with limited hours.