Task force makes re-entry suggestions

Priority given to certain groups

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Not that anyone wants to think about the evacuation and re-entry process just seven months after Hurricane Irma slammed the Keys, but a 16-person task force has made suggestions on how it could be improved.

Phasing the re-entry of Monroe County residents with colored stickers on their windshields worked, the task force found.

Providing a list of named “essential personnel” at the Florida City checkpoint did not, which is why essential workers will be given placards for their vehicles in the future, indicating their positions.

The placards will identify two different groups: Emergency services workers and government employees in the first group, and other workers necessary for recovery like volunteers and employees of grocery stores and banks.

At the task force’s suggestion, Monroe County residents will have the opportunity to be involved in a 40-hour training course for basic search and rescue and first aid. Those who take the training will be granted advanced re-entry in the second placard group.

The task force has met four times since Irma to improve the re-entry system in time for the next hurricane season, which begins June 1. The Board of County Commissioners will have the final say.

The 2018 recommendation, as well as the task force’s meeting agendas and minutes, are available on the Monroe County website at: www.monroecounty-fl.gov/reentry.

— Katie Atkins

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