U.S. Army helicopter lands in Key West shopping center to deliver food, water

KEY WEST, Fla. – A U.S. Army helicopter landed at a shopping center in Key West Wednesday afternoon to deliver food and water to desperate residents.

Local 10 News reporter Andrew Perez was at the scene outside a Publix supermarket, where authorities and locals lined up to help bring out the supplies from inside the helicopter.

Many residents throughout the Keys, including in Key West, have been desperate because they are without power, phones or internet.

Many people also lost their homes when Hurricane Irma hit the Keys Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane, but the main issue for them right now is that the area is difficult to get to.

Those who are helping people get back on their feet in the Keys include volunteers from around the country.

"We weren't mobilized to respond, so myself and a group of veterans and other still-active reserve service members teamed up and decided to come down," Joe, who is a U.S. Marine from Texas, said. "We were in Jacksonville. We've been doing search-and-rescue all around the Florida area, and then we made our way down to the Keys." 

The port area was being cleared of boats Wednesday that went underwater during the storm. Once the port is cleared, it will allow relief ships to come through.

The Naval Air Station Key West landing strip was also quickly cleared to allow planes to land.

Key West International Airport and Florida Keys Marathon International Airport are open only for emergency response flights.

Monroe County spokeswoman Cammy Clark said about 2,000 members of the National Guard are in the Keys to help with communications and work at the county distribution points, where food and water will be given out.

The distribution points are located at the Coral Shores High School, Marathon High School, National Key Deer Refuge office on the Overseas Highway in Big Pine Key, Sugarloaf School, Sears Town Plaza in New Town Key West and the Fourth Street parking lot near the soccer field in Bahama Village in Old Town Key West.

Water restrictions are in place, and water should only be used for sanitation purposes, Clark said.

Water will be turned on from 10 a.m. to noon and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Key West and Stock Island.

There is still a precautionary boil water notice in effect for all of the Keys.

Re-entry into the Keys remains limited to residents and business owners in the Upper Keys to mile marker 73 as crews work to clear debris from roads and inspect all bridges in the area.

About the Authors:

Andrew Perez is a South Florida native who joined the Local 10 News team in May 2014.

Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for Local10.com.