Florida DEP Deputy Secretary David Clark Tours Keys Canals Impacted by Hurricane Irma

November 30, 2017

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Deputy Secretary David Clark traveled from Tallahassee recently to meet with Florida Keys’ officials to tour local canals impacted by Hurricane Irma and discuss marine storm debris removal.

The Department of Environmental Protection has agreed to lead marine debris removal efforts throughout Florida, including the Keys. Monroe County and Keys municipalities have agreed to be partners, offering local knowledge and coordination for prioritizing canals and nearshore waters for cleanup.

“Show me the most impacted canals you have,” Clark asked county staff.

Monroe County Mayor David Rice and local staff from Monroe County, Marathon and Florida DEP took Clark to hard-hit canals in Big Pine and Marathon that were clogged with battered docks, destroyed vessels, propane tanks and other debris that is blocking navigation and causing environmental damage.

Rhonda Haag, who is leading the county’s marine debris removal effort, showed Clark how the county’s $7 million investment in restored canals has been negatively impacted.

“These demonstration canals will be at the top of the list for debris removal so the county’s investment can be preserved and the temporary negative impact from the storm can be reversed,” Haag said.

Residents from each neighborhood welcomed the group,  and commented about the poor water quality and how much they looked forward to the debris being removed and the canal waters returned to normal.

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11.29.17: Update on Hurricane Debris Removal in Unincorporated Monroe County

November 29, 2017


Monroe County’s contractors have completed hurricane debris removal on all county roads in Key Largo and Tavernier. The final pass in this area began Oct. 29 and county workers ensured that each county road was completed since that date. The public was notified that the deadline to put debris on county roads in this area was Oct. 28.

It is now illegal for anyone to put hurricane debris in any right of way in Key Largo or Tavernier, including along U.S. Highway 1. Law enforcement will be enforcing illegal dumping laws.

Residents who live in Key Largo and Tavernier now need to take any additional hurricane debris to a county transfer station or make other arrangements. At this time, transfer stations are not charging county residents disposal fees for hurricane debris.


The Florida Department of Transportation and the Division of Emergency Management have agreed to do one final pass along U.S. 1 in the Keys to collect FEMA-eligible hurricane debris. (This does not include mobile homes, cars, boats and other ineligible debris).

FDOT’s contactors had stopped picking up hurricane debris along U.S. 1 at the end of October. State Rep. Holly Raschein, who represents the Keys, and other local officials and staff spoke with FDOT and Division of Emergency Management officials to convince them of the unique situation of the Keys. FDOT will coordinate with the county and municipalities on the U.S. 1 pickup.

“I am thrilled that after continued discussions, FDOT has agreed to our request to return to the Keys for a final debris pick-up along US 1,” Raschein said. “With the devastation seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, it is the right thing to do and the right thing for our community. Our local municipalities are working to do their part and I’m glad to see the state is willing to continue to partner with us in our recovery by continuing to clear debris along our state highway.”


Monroe County’s new hurricane debris contractor, DRC Environmental Services, has multiple crews working throughout Lower Sugarloaf to the Big Pine Key area.

Crews are currently working on a first pass for vegetative and construction and demolition debris on Lower Sugarloaf, Upper Sugarloaf (Indian Mounds subdivisions and streets at the northern part of Crane Boulevard), Cudjoe Key (south of U.S. 1 off Spanish Main), Summerland Key south of U.S. 1 and Little Torch Key north of U.S. 1.

Crews also are working at the southern and eastern parts of Big Pine Key, including the Sands subdivision (The Avenues), Tropical Key Colony subdivision, neighborhoods south of U.S. 1, including Long Beach Road as well as in Whispering Pines subdivision and Doctors Arm. Crews soon will move into Pine Channel Estates and Palm Villa subdivisions.

When the first pass is done in these areas, crews will move to Cudjoe Gardens and sections of Cudjoe Key north of U.S. 1, Summerland Key and Ramrod Key north of U.S. 1, Jolly Rogers Estates on Little Torch, Breezeswept Beach Estates on Ramrod Key, Big Pine Key north of Watson Boulevard and No Name Key to complete DRC’s first pass.

Contractors will work these areas to collect all construction and demolition debris and vegetative debris. White goods (big appliances) and stumps will be collected separately.

The anticipated time to complete the first pass is two weeks; additional passes will be completed as necessary.

At the same time, county public works crews are working on Big Pine Key along private roads in the Pine Key Acres and Doctors Arm subdivisions to move debris to the closest public right of way for collection by DRC crews.  It is not necessary to call the county or sign a right of entry form in order for the crews to come down your private road.


The final pass in these areas will begin soon once a suitable temporary site to store collected debris is identified.  Monroe County employees have been going through these areas collecting household hazardous waste.

In these areas, no more hurricane debris should be dumped along U.S. 1.


A reminder: Hurricane debris collection was completed on county roads from Stock Island to Baypoint. It is illegal to put hurricane debris on any county road or along U.S. 1 in this area and illegal dumping laws will be enforced.


County residents can still bring hurricane debris to any of the County’s three transfer stations for free disposal.

Islamorada’s Founders Park to Reopen Sunday, Dec. 3

November 29, 2017

Islamorada Founders Park, located at 87000 Overseas Highway, will reopen Sunday, Dec. 3, after a nearly three-month closure. The Village is happy to welcome back residents who have been eager to take their dogs to the dog park for a leash-free run and families that have been waiting to return for a relaxing day at the beach.

Facilities that will remain closed are the Ron Levy Aquatic Center, the golf driving range and the soccer/multi-use field.

All other Founders Park recreational areas will be open to the public. Everyone is encouraged to come back to Founders Park and enjoy the beach, volleyball court, picnic areas, playgrounds, fitness/walking trails, tennis courts, basketball court, dog park, outdoor fitness park and the pickleball court.

Founders Park hours are sunrise to sunset.

Monroe County Is Providing Guidance to Owners of Mobile Homes and Manufactured Houses

November 29, 2017

In Monroe County, mobile and manufactured homes suffered some of the worst damage from Hurricane Irma because the units were built to different standards than the current building code and because many have existed for decades and were not elevated.

And, because manufactured and mobile homes typically are a less resilient housing type, regulations that govern them are set up to discourage their replacement in vulnerable locations such as the low-lying Florida Keys in order to ensure public safety and resiliency of residents.

Do you own a mobile home or manufactured unit in Monroe County that was damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Irma? Do you have questions about whether you can replace or repair your home? Do you have questions about how high a replacement home may need to be elevated?

Homeowners now can place their name and property information on a checklist and submit it to the Monroe County Planning and Environmental Resources Department. Planning and floodplain staff will review your property information and provide answers about what federal, state and local regulations allow you to do with your home.

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Monroe County BOCC to Hold Post-Irma Housing Recovery Strategies Meeting Wednesday, Nov. 29

November 28, 2017

The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners is holding a special meeting about housing recovery strategies in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

When: Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017

Where: Marathon Government Center, 2798 Overseas Highway

Time: 10 a.m.

 Agenda items include:

• A presentation of the Monroe County Housing Strategy Document called “The Florida Keys — Rising Above Recovery.” The document was prepared by the Housing Task Force that includes county and city staff, and it has been shared with state and federal partners assisting Monroe County with housing recovery efforts. The document briefly explains and highlights the unique Florida Keys and potential strategies to target for rebuilding a resilient housing stock.

• A presentation on Hurricane Irma structural damage. This will be followed by a discussion and direction on potential mitigation opportunities (state and federal grants) for disaster-specific programs potentially available to the county for the purpose of facilitating recovery from Hurricane Irma.

• Discussion and direction on potential comprehensive plan amendments to incentivize and prioritize the provision of workforce housing after the significant damage caused by Hurricane Irma.

• A presentation on Code Compliant Small Modular Units as an affordable alternative housing solution on scattered sites throughout Monroe County

• The Land Authority also will hold a discussion of land acquisition strategies for securing workforce housing sites after Hurricane Irma.

The complete agenda and backup information is available on the County website at: http://monroecountyfl.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=1061.

Monroe County Completes Road-Improvement Project in Key Largo Subdivision

November 27, 2017
Photo by Cammy Clark

Monroe County recently completed an approximately $1.1 million roadway and drainage improvement project in the Sexton Cove Estates subdivision of Key Largo.

The subdivision is located on the bayside of U.S. Highway 1, with the entrance at mile marker 105.

The scope of work included roadway reconstruction, widening, milling, overlaying existing road surfaces with asphaltic concrete pavement, regrading roadway shoulders, pavement markings, drainage and other roadway construction.

The project was designed with sea level rise projections based on 2015 tidal data. It was funded by infrastructure sales tax.

The project started before Hurricane Irma struck the Keys. There was no direct storm damage but there was minor pavement damage caused by heavy equipment used for Hurricane Irma debris removal.

Today is the Last Day to Register for FEMA Assistance After Hurricane Irma in Florida

November 24, 2017

You have until 11:59 tonight, Friday, Nov. 24, to register with FEMA if you have damage caused by Hurricane Irma-in Florida-between Sept. 4 and Oct. 18, 2017.
How to register:

*       Online at DisasterAssistance.gov<http://www.disasterassistance.gov/>.<http://www.disasterassistance.gov/>

*       Call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 for voice, 711 and Video Relay Service (VRS). If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability and use a TTY, call 800-462-7585. Help is available in many languages. Helpline numbers are open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST, seven days a week.

*       Information is available in ASL at: fema.gov/media<http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/videos/111546>library/assets/videos/111546<http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/videos/111546>.<http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/videos/111546>

*       Download the FEMA Mobile App<https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app> <https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app> and apply.

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Monroe County Hurricane Irma Recovery Update: Debris Collection and County Parks

November 21, 2017
Photos of Harry Harris Park damage by Kevin Wilson.


Monroe County’s new hurricane debris contractor, DRC Emergency Services, has about 33 trucks working on county roads in the hardest-hit area of the Keys from mile marker 16 to 40. About 8,000 cubic yards of debris is being collected each day in this area.

Hurricane debris contractors cannot pick up on private roads due to FEMA regulations. If you live on a private road, you can bring your debris to the closest county right of way. Monroe County public works employees are collecting debris on these private roads and bringing it to the closest right of way.

Collection will continue in this area for the next few weeks. No deadline has been set for a final pass.

In Key Largo and Tavernier, the final pass on county roads is almost complete. The deadline to put debris on county roads or U.S. Highway 1 in this area has passed.

The final pass on Conch Key, Duck Key and Layton will begin as soon as a debris management site can be leased by DRC. Progress is being made and the hope is that final passes in those areas will be able to begin soon.

The Florida Department of Transportation has the jurisdiction to collect debris along U.S. 1 in the Keys. FDOT has told the county and Keys municipalities it has completed picking up debris along U.S. 1. The county and municipalities cannot pick up debris along U.S. 1 until  jurisdiction is worked out with FDOT in order to get reimbursed by FEMA.

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FEMA Has Provided Nearly $53 Million to Monroe County Hurricane Irma Survivors

November 21, 2017

Monroe County homeowners and renters impacted by Hurricane Irma have received nearly $53 million in assistance for housing and other recovery needs from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Here are some facts about FEMA  assistance provided to Monroe County residents:

• Since Hurricane Irma struck on Sept. 10, FEMA has provided $52.9 million in grants to Monroe County homeowners and renters for uninsured damage to their primary residence and serious losses related to Hurricane Irma.

• About 15,700 Monroe County households have received FEMA grants, which can include money for temporary rental assistance, home repairs and other needs not covered by insurance, such as replacing destroyed personal property.

• About 8,800 Monroe County households have been provided rental assistance money from FEMA. Many families have received two months of rental assistance. This enables survivors to rent an available rental property and check out of hotels.

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Inspections to Begin for 140 Homeowners Registered in FEMA’s STEP Rapid Repair Program

November 20, 2017

At least 140 homeowners in the Florida Keys have registered for FEMA’s Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power program, known as STEP. 


STEP is a rapid repair program that enables eligible individuals or families whose primary homes were damaged due to Hurricane Irma to take shelter in their home while they rebuild. This includes providing a functional kitchen, bathroom, sleeping area and air-conditioning for this livable area of the home.


The first home inspections for the STEP program in the Keys begin Nov. 21. The STEP program’s contractor already is in place and is expected to begin the first repair work on damaged primary homes within two weeks.


The deadline to apply for STEP is the end of November, but the sooner a homeowner applies, the sooner the process can begin. The grant for the STEP program requires all repair work to be completed by the end of January.

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