Upper Keys residents say they're ready to go home, rebuild

Residents can return 7 a.m. Tuesday

FLORIDA KEYS, Fla. – Monroe County will allow re-entry into the Keys for residents and business owners in Key Largo, Tavernier and Islamorada at 7 a.m. Tuesday. Mariners Hospital in Tavernier will also open at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

But the damage to parts of the island chain is widespread.

"My heart goes out to the people in the Keys," Gov. Rick Scott said after a tour of Key West.

Hurricane Irma made landfall in Cudjoe Key, where electricity and cell service is all but nonexistent.

A woman who answered the phone for Parmers Resort in Little Torch Key, a charming collection of bungalows on the bay side, said she had evacuated. She did not know what damage the resort may have sustained in the storm.

Images of Baby’s Coffee near Sugarloaf Key, a local coffee roaster with a national following, showed major damage to the building.

On Monday evening, U.S. Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, and a contingent of South Florida lawmakers,  toured the damage in the Keys from a Coast Guard C-130. The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners posted images on its Facebook page of National Guard troops in the Keys.

On the northernmost end of the Keys, Sky 10 showed flooding at Gilbert’s Resort in Key Largo. The water appeared to be halfway up the tires of a parked car in the parking lot. No one answered the phone at Gilbert’s on Monday afternoon.

Snappers, located to the south on the Overseas Highway, was destroyed. Storm surge on the ocean side appeared to have battered the docks of the beloved restaurant.

In Long Key, Sky 10 captured images of some roof damage.

Duck Key Marina also appeared to have roof damage.

In Marathon, some mobile homes appeared to have been toppled. Scott said he saw mobile homes destroyed in Key West.

"Almost every trailer park there overturned," he said.

But Maribel Paez, the owner of Five Brothers Coffee in Key West said she is confident Key West will recover. She said Old Town Key West got banged up, but  she did not see widespread devastation when she assessed the area near her business.

"We're good. Everybody's helping everybody out," she said.

About the Author: