Monroe Sheriff Department Brings LEGOs to Sugarloaf School Hurricane Victims

October 19, 2017

Monroe County Sheriff’s School Resource Sergeant Eric Mixon worked with Sugarloaf School Counselor Rebecca Palomino to match these LEGO sets, donated by LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Atlanta, with the children who needed them most at the school. Sugarloaf School is located in one of the most damaged parts of Monroe County and the children attending the school come from families most affected by Hurricane Irma.

Reminder: Deadline to Apply for FEMA Assistance Is Nov. 9

October 19, 2017

Remember: The deadline to file for FEMA individual assistance is Nov. 9. This can be done online at

There also are four FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers in the Keys to help people register for individual assistance or get updates on their accounts. Two of the centers, in Marathon and Key West, have relocated. Here are the current locations.

MARATHON: 6805 Overseas Highway

ISLAMORADA: Fire Station #20, 81850 Overseas Hwy

BIG PINE KEY: Big Pine Key Community Park, 31009 Atlantis Dr.

KEY WEST: 3126 Flagler Ave

These centers offer in-person support to individuals and small businesses. Recovery specialists from FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration and the state of Florida are available to provide assistance with filling out applications or updating their status.

Disaster Recovery Centers all operate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

There are also three FEMA disaster mobile teams that are canvassing neighborhoods in the Keys today.

These mobile teams carry iPads and can register survivors for FEMA assistance for the first time at their doorstep. They have limited ability to help people update their accounts. Please Note: Mobile teams will wear FEMA vests, have proper identification and never ask for money.

These locations vary each day. Today, Oct. 19, there are two teams in Key Largo and one on Stock Island. One soon will be going to Summerland Key. These teams operate from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Press Release: United Way of the Florida Keys Provides Nearly $400,000 to Support Hurricane Irma Relief

October 19, 2017

In the weeks immediately following Hurricane Irma, United Way of the Florida Keys has distributed over $20,000 in direct aid in the form of store gift cards and cleaning supplies and tools. The organization also disbursed $52,700 in emergency “mini-grants” to eight local, established partner nonprofits directly serving individuals and families impacted by the storm. Additionally, $45,000 was dedicated toward hotel rooms to assist residents in the Upper Keys left homeless due to Irma-related damages to their homes.

This week, UWFK will allocate another $80,000 in additional mini-grants to 16 previously vetted partner agencies, including Florida Keys Outreach Coalition, Burton Memorial Church, Southernmost Boys & Girls Clubs, KAIR, Star of the Sea Mission Outreach and many others. Further, an application for an additional $100,000 worth of funding is open to any human service nonprofit engaged in hurricane recovery and rebuilding efforts at There is also a link to the application on the UWFK homepage.

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Sales of ‘Keys Strong’ CD to Benefit Local Charities

October 19, 2017

The Southernmost Coconut Castaways, the OFFICIAL Home “Friend Club” for Howard Livingston and the Mile Marker 24 Band, is proud to announce the release of a brand-new compilation CD called “Keys Strong: Music for Hurricane Irma Relief.”

With more than 35 songs about Key West, the Keys and the Keys “lifestyle” we all love, the double CD set includes songs by some of the best “Trop Rock” performers from all over the country and includes local musicians as well.

Some classic hits, some newly recorded versions of past hits and some brand spanking new songs specifically recorded for this CD, 100 percent of all proceeds will go to the United Way of the Florida Keys.
Money will be distributed to the 16 local charities listed on their website so the money stays here in The Keys.

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Highlights from the Oct. 18 Monroe County BOCC Meeting

October 18, 2017

The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners made progress toward moving forward on the removal of marine debris from canals throughout the Keys during its monthly meeting today.

The BOCC adopted an ordinance that amends Chapter 11 – Emergency Management and Emergency Service of the Monroe County Code. The amendment provides for disaster-generated debris removal from canals in order to protect public health and safety. The ordinance is retroactive to Sept. 4, 2017.

The Federal Emergency Management Administration funds disaster land debris removal and the agency requested this ordinance to be able to fund marine debris removal from canals.

“This satisfies a request from FEMA that makes it clear the county has legal authority to go into canals and remove marine debris and vessels,” Monroe County Assistant Attorney Cynthia Hall told the commission. “The county can then delegate its authority to one of its working partners, such as DEP or FWC.”

The county is working with those partners and expects to enter into an interlocal agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to set the partners’ cleanup responsibilities. DEP is expected to take the lead in canal cleanup.

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Key West Disaster Recovery Center to Relocate Thursday

October 18, 2017

The Disaster Recovery Center in Key West at the Key West Fire Station #2 closed Tuesday, Oct. 17 and will reopen at a new Key West location, 3126 Flagler Ave., Thursday, Oct. 19.

Disaster Recovery Centers offer in-person support to individuals and small business owners. Recovery specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Small Business Administration and the state of Florida are available to provide assistance to anyone needing help completing aid applications or updating their status.

Voluntary organizations also are available at the DRC and offer a variety of services to help survivors recover.

CLOSED: Tuesday, Oct. 17, Key West Fire Station #2, 616 Simonton St.

REOPENING: Thursday, Oct. 19, at 3126 Flagler Ave. HOURS: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week until further notice.

Key West Film Festival to Showcase Cinema Nov. 15-19

October 18, 2017

Movie aficionados can enjoy more than 30 films from genres including narrative features, documentaries, foreign language, and LGBTQ- and Florida-focused themes during the sixth annual Key West Film Festival.

Launching the 2017 festival, set for Wednesday through Sunday, Nov. 15-19, is the acclaimed film, “The Shape of Water,” starring actress Octavia Spencer in director Guillermo del Toro’s first offering to be produced in English. The movie is a romantic “creature feature” with an amphibious being and set in Cold War–era America.

The closing film, “Last Flag Flying” by director Richard Linklater, features actors Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell and Laurence Fishburne as Vietnam veterans who journey on a road trip to bury one of the men’s sons.

Themed “Passion Meets Paradise,” the festival offers screenings and question-and-answer sessions with industry insiders and critics.

The event’s third annual Critics Focus program is to be led by Kenneth Turan, film critic for the Los Angeles Times, and Joshua Rothkopf, film editor for Time Out New York. Other critics include Eric Kohn, Alison Willmore, David Fear, Jeffrey Wells and Steve Dollar.

The annual Brett Ratner Florida Film Scholarship honors a Florida student filmmaker with a $5,000 grant.

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Key Largo Reef and Wreck Diving Report

October 18, 2017

As the Florida Keys recover from the impacts of Hurricane Irma’s Sept. 10 passage through the island chain, professional dive operators are assessing post-Irma condition of coral reefs and shipwrecks, precious resources located in the protected waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Off Key Largo, divers report that some of the favorite iconic dive and snorkel sites located 3 to 4 miles offshore remain very much intact, despite some topographic changes and a displacement of sand from deeper waters onto shallow areas of the reefs, which tidal cycles and ocean currents are expected to correct soon.

Key Largo dive operators — many of them Blue Star operators who promote marine conservation on behalf of the sanctuary — excitedly noted that the experience on some wreck dives is like seeing them for the first time, with new features exposed. During the assessment divers also collected a variety of marine debris from the reefs and mangrove trees lining canals that lead to open-water access.

“Every day more fish return, sea turtles, gentle nurse sharks and stingrays, all cruising the spur-and-groove formations that make these coral structures so recognizable,” said Jack Fishman, a dive instructor at Key Largo’s Rainbow Reef Dive Center.

Additional assessments are still ongoing throughout the Keys coordinated by NOAA’s Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Here are some highlights.

Molasses Reef: Marked by over two dozen mooring buoys and home to schools of grunt and gray snapper, Molasses Reef is named for what is thought to be the cargo of the wrecked wooden-hulled Austrian ship Slobodna that ran aground in 1887.

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Marathon Public Library to Reopen Soon

October 17, 2017

Hurricane Irma damaged the main equipment that powers Monroe County’s Marathon Public Library Branch. Due to difficulty acquiring parts to repair the power equipment, the library has not been able to reopen.

The last necessary parts are expected to arrive this week, and electricians are standing by to fast-track the repairs.

The Marathon Library could reopen as early as the end of this week, but an exact date will not be known until the parts arrive.

Private Communities with Private Roads Must Request Hurricane Debris Removal From FEMA

October 17, 2017

Do you live on a private road in Monroe County?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) does not allow Monroe County or FDOT contractors to remove hurricane debris from private roads in the County. However, there are exceptions if a private community requests debris removal from its private roads and completes a right of entry, hold harmless and indemnification form.

Only one person with signing authority from each private community should make the request.

To receive the form – and for information about the process – contact Trish Eables at 305-292-3470 or email Signed forms are sent to FEMA, which funds the debris contractors and gives them approval to work on private roads.

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