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Florida Keys residents unable to get home after evacuating for Hurricane Irma

Authorities block off access to Keys as they work to clear roads

FLORIDA CITY, Fla. – Dozens of people begun heading out on the roads early Monday, hoping to make their way back to the Florida Keys after evacuating for Hurricane Irma.

"The phones are dead," Armando Boan said.

"Have you been able to speak to anybody?" Local 10 News reporter Ian Margol asked.

"Nobody, no," Boan said.

Drivers were confronted by a roadblock in Florida City as they were hoping to jump on U.S. Route 1 or Card Sound Road to get into the Keys.

The roadblock was set up by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office and Florida Highway Patrol, which shut down all access to the Keys.

"I said, 'Fine, that's good.' They want to make sure everything is safe and clear, but I'd really like to get in there today," another man, identified only as Juan, said.

The only people who were allowed to pass Monday morning were part of a convoy from the Florida National Guard, who showed up before sunrise to help Monroe County crews begin cleaning up the roads.

"We'll receive instruction from them -- hey, what do you need? What kind of obstacles are we going to see and what kind of debris do we have? And we'll go from there," Florida National Guard Capt. Corey Gathers said.

Meanwhile, those hoping to get home were stuck, many of them gathering inside of a RaceTrac gas station, trying to fuel up.

"Most people that you see -- a lot of people here -- everyone is waiting on gas. It's a commodity right now," Boan said.

For some, friends and family who stayed behind were able to check on property and help calm nerves, but for others, not knowing what they'll find is keeping them on edge.

"I had a friend that was in the Keys and said my property was fine -- a couple of trees fallen down and everything, but everything looked good," Eddie Tejera said.

Juan said he has no idea what to expect once he is able to get into the Keys.

"God only knows. I have no idea," he said.

It's unclear when roads will reopen to the Keys. As of 10 p.m. Monday, there was a line forming on Krome Avenue as residents sat and waited.



About the Author:

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.