Six days ago, the city of Marathon experienced hurricane force winds that plunged the city into darkness, made roads impassable, compromised the city’s water supply and crippled the wastewater system.
Today, city and county officials deemed the city safe enough for residents to be allowed to return to their homes.
The Lower Keys and Key West are expected to reopen on Sunday.
“We have limited water and power, but we think we are ready for re-entry,” said Marathon City Manager Chuck Lindsey.
“We will shelter at the school first, but need the Red Cross to guarantee additional shelters will be ready within 72 hours to house our displaced residents.”
Most of Marathon remains without power and the entire county remains on a water boil alert.
The decision was made based on assurances from Monroe County that certain conditions will be met as residents pour back into the city – many of whom will not have homes that are habitable.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office will close the checkpoint at MM 74 and establish a new checkpoint at the north side of the 7 Mile Bridge.
The Homestead checkpoint will remain in place, as only residents and those helping with the recovery effort will be allowed into the county.
“This is going to be very trying for the next few days, for sure,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “Any decision we make we are going to be ripped apart. More people coming back will hamper utility workers, but we also understand people need to save what they can, stop looting, and tarp their roofs.”
A strictly enforced dawn to dusk curfew will remain in effect for Marathon through Key West.
Official Press Release:
Marathon will open to residents today. We understand the need for our people to get to their homes to minimize damage as the days progress.
“This is an extremely difficult decision as we are trying to balance resident safety with the need to protect their homes. Essential services are not available but we have faith in the County to provide the needed resources to our residents over the next 72 hours that they have promised. Florida Keys Co-op and our Aqueduct Authority have been making huge strides. We have confidence in their ability to restore services quickly,” said Marathon Mayor Dr. Dan Zieg.
As of 8:30 this morning, the city has established one phone line. The number is 305-289-5020.
Residents need to be advised if you choose to return.
- There is no power to much of the city
- There is limited water
- Without water, sewer will not work in your home.
- The hospital is closed but a field hospital is open behind city hall.
- Supplies and shelters are very limited and what is in place is temporary.
- You must be self-sufficient. Water, food, gasoline and other supplies are extremely limited. Have a plan to shelter if you have lost your home.
- Water is not potable. BOIL WATER BEFORE USING.
- If you don’t have to return, please stay away to help mitigate resource drain for those that need it more.
- Cellphone and Internet services are extremely limited. This means you may not be able to dial 9-1-1 for assistance if needed and emergency response will be delayed.
- The American Red Cross is establishing a small shelter at the High School for the most in need. THIS SHELTER IS ONLY TEMPORARY and will not accept pets
- If you have the option, the city suggests leaving pets behind for now.
- Food and water are being distributed on a limited basis at the Marathon High School. More locations will become available as resources become available.
- A dusk-to-dawn curfew will remain in place throughout the city.
- Public utilities have not yet been restored. Businesses may not be open or able to meet the needs of the public.
- A donation plan is being established; for questions, contact city hall. Currently the City is taking large donations of Water and non-perishable food at its utility building (104th St.) for distribution.
Donations are also being accepted at the American Legion, mile marker 48.5 oceanside, and Kirk of the Keys Church, mile marker 52 oceanside.