Hurricane Irma

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

Survey teams this week completed an assessment of the condition of the Keys reef tract, from Biscayne Bay to Key West.

"It's very much like what's observable on land," said Sarah Fangman, superintendent of the 2,900-square-nautical-mile Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. "In some places, the impacts are pretty dramatic and visible and in other places they are much less. So we're finding the same is true underwater."

Even in the same location, the hurricane's impacts differ.

If all goes well, people on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands could have power restored next week for the first time since a pair of devastating Category 5 hurricanes struck in September, the local electric utility says.

"Portions of St. John are scheduled to be restored by the middle of next week," says Jean P. Greaux, Jr., communications director for Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority.

panel of members of congress
Caitie Switalski / WLRN

Florida Congresswoman Frederica Wilson organized a Congressional Field Hearing Thursday at Miami Dade College's North Campus to hear ideas for possible changes to nursing home regulations. 

She said she hopes to pass a federal law that would prevent future deaths after natural disasters, like hurricanes. She opened the discussion by making its purpose clear.

"You know,  we had a terrible tragedy in District 24 and we vowed that this will never ever happen again, never happen again," she said. 

Nadege Green / WLRN

Latoya Williams was concerned about her first paycheck after Hurricane Irma.

She couldn’t go to work for seven days because the early childcare center where she teaches was closed because of the storm and its after-effects.

“Whatever I make is what I make,” said Williams. “I have no supplemental income. It really would have been hard and tight."

Like most hourly employees, Williams doesn’t get paid if she doesn’t show up to work— even if the reason is an act of nature. The economic impact of Irma could have a devastating affect on individuals who work hourly jobs.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The endangered Key deer herd was already coming out of a tough year — the herd lost more than 100 animals to New World screwworm.

So when the eye of Hurricane Irma crossed the Lower Keys as a Category 4 storm, wildlife managers were worried. The Lower Keys is also the only place on the planet where Key deer live.

But recently completed population surveys came up with good news, said Dan Clark, manager of the four national wildlife refuges in the Keys, including Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge.

Kate Stein / WLRN

Resiliency is more than dealing with sea level rise, and Hurricane Irma made that point clearly, South Florida officials said at a post-Irma summit on Monday.

Three Florida parks in the Keys opened to the public Friday for the first time since Hurricane Irma, as the state looks at overall storm damage to its parks topping $55 million.

John and Grace Slaby met 19 years ago on an animal preserve much like the one they own and operate now. The 5-acre Kowiachobee Animal Preserve in Naples, Fla., holds more than 100 animals — from a 6-year-old African lion named Shaumbay to a raccoon named Dexter.

Last month, Kowiachobee was hit by the eye of Hurricane Irma, a Category 3 storm. After an already wet season, the hurricane created more flooding on the property. Grace and John, along with many volunteers, are now repairing cages damaged by the storm.

Darrick Akey

After Hurricane Irma, the iconic "Welcome to Key West" sign that greets drivers who reach the Southernmost city via US 1 mysteriously disappeared.

It was reportedly spotted on the ground right after the storm — but then was gone.

Thursday morning, a couple showed up at the Key West Express ferry docks in Fort Myers, wanting to ship cargo to the island, according to a post on the ferry's Facebook page.

The ferry company agreed to take it back home where it arrived on Thursday, greeted by Key West police officers.

Wilson Sayre / WLRN

Kendrix Haynes lost a lot in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma: all his food and his pet bearded dragon, Rocky. It was the power (or rather the lack of it). Without it, his refrigerator couldn’t stay cold enough and the heat lamp wasn't hot enough. 

A Republican state senator — and funeral director — is suggesting that a South Florida nursing home may not be to blame for 14 deaths that occurred in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

Carl Juste / Miami Herald

Excess water from Hurricane Irma is still making its way through Florida, exacerbating the significant water management challenges the state's faced this rainy season.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Monroe County released a preliminary damage assessment of residential structures in the unincorporated parts of the county Wednesday. 

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