Monroe County Firefighters and Sheriff Deputies to enter Keys around noon

As Hurricane Irma churns past the lower Florida Keys, Monroe County emergency management is being “thoughtful and deliberate,” in their response to the storm.

Firefighters, paramedics and law enforcement officers staged in Ocean Reef are awaiting the command to push into the Florida Keys to begin clearing roads with the reopening of the Marathon airport the highest priority.

A concern right now is for the safety of the first responders due to downed power lines. As soon as the winds become safe enough for motor vehicles, linemen from the Florida Keys Electric Co-op will work alongside the crews moving back into the Keys. Very specific parameters will be set for the linemen who volunteer.

There is also growing concern of serious issues at shelters at Key West and Marathon High schools, which served as refuges of last resort.  A death occurred in the Marathon school last night.

Power is out for approximately 90 miles from the Snake Creek Bridge in Tavernier through Key West. The water utility detected a major leak and has shut off water to Key West.

The Department of Transportation will be moving into the Keys on Monday with a road and bridge inspection team. A visual, aerial inspection is also planned for obvious breaches to the transportation system.

Weekly Staffers Britt Myers and Hays Blinkmann, who stayed for the storm, will send word from Key West as soon as possible.

Cutline: This is a still from the a video by MCSO’s Gene Thompson from the back doors of Marathon High School looking across the parking lot to Marathon Manor taken at 9 a.m. Sunday.

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