News Release

NPS Incident Management Team Hurricane Irma Update, Friday, September 15, 2017 -- 5 pm

building and furniture debris in a room with an entire wall missing
Gulf Coast Visitor Center at Everglades National Park after Hurricane Irma

NPS photo

News Release Date: September 15, 2017

Contact: Mike Litterst, 202-306-4166

Contact: Brent Everitt, 850-393-7952

Contact: Katie Lawhon, 717-253-5776

Incident information
Photos of Hurricane Irma damage and response

Miami - The National Park Service Eastern Incident Management Team (Team) is in its sixth day of operation, coordinating the bureau’s response to parks impacted by Hurricane Irma. Immediate objectives are to support employee emergency needs, conduct damage assessments, and remove debris in the affected areas. So far, 119 National Park Service employees from outside the impacted areas are working in the parks or en route, with additional resources expected to be ordered in the coming days.
Employee accountability and care is the primary concern of the National Park Service. One hundred percent of the employees at all national parks have been accounted for.
The safety and support of all NPS employees working in the parks is the priority for the National Park Service response to the hurricane. 
National park sites assisted by the team are widespread and include all of the national parks in South Florida, the Caribbean, and along the Atlantic coast. Information from damage and critical assessments is listed below. The public is reminded that parks are closed to all use, including motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, due to safety concerns during cleanup operations. Parks will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.
News from the field - September 15:

Caribbean National Parks


Christiansted National Historic Site

  • The park has re-opened to the public. The park sustained minimal damage from Hurricane Irma, mainly in the form of downed vegetation, some shutter and sign damage, shoreline erosion, and storm-washed seaweed and debris. Parking lot hours remain 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with a two hour limit.

Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve

  • The park has re-opened to the public. The park sustained minimal damage from Hurricane Irma, mainly in the form of downed vegetation, some shutter and sign damage, shoreline erosion, and storm-washed seaweed and debris. The Visitor Contact Station will be open to visitors Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument - CLOSED

  • Initial assessments will be completed when personnel arrive.

Virgin Islands National Park - CLOSED

  • Utilities are down and there are problems with generators. Rainy weather is impacting recovery operations. The road to the campground washed out.

  • Staff are working with FEMA.

  • Park housing has suffered some damage.

Buck Island Reef National Monument

  • Island-wide assessments will begin soon to review damage to park facilities, natural and cultural resources. Commercial tour operations have resumed.

South Florida National Parks


Big Cypress National Preserve - CLOSED

  • Assessments are ongoing. 

  • There are continued utility outages.

  • A “boil water” advisory is in effect.

  • Fuel shortages are affecting recovery efforts.

  • Additional law enforcement and security is in place.

Biscayne National Park - CLOSED

  • The main park road has been cleared.

  • An aerial assessment found significant damage to park facilities, including headquarters.

  • A few Stiltsville structures have sustained minor damage.

  • Docks have been severely damaged. Working to get docks in shape to meet visitor needs.

  • Numerous trees are down.

  • An assessment by boat is underway at Boca Chita, Elliott and Adams keys.

  • The park remains closed to visitor access, though water transit is permitted.

De Soto National Memorial - CLOSED

  • No power, internet or phone

  • No damage to park buildings has been identified.

  • Trails and fences have been damaged.

  • County is going to help clear trails.

Dry Tortugas National Park - CLOSED

  • Staff returned to the park today to begin assessments and to meet the National Park Service supply and work boat, Fort Jefferson, which returned from Belize where it sheltered from the storm. 

  • Initial findings are that a significant breach of moat wall, but the dock is undamaged.

  • Radio communications are out due to problems with the radio mast.

Everglades National Park - CLOSED

  • Heavy equipment arrived at the Gulf Coast area this morning to continue clean-up efforts. 

  • Damage assessment efforts continue in the Shark Valley Area, where the Visitor Center appears to have sustained only minor damage.  

  • The Pine Island saw crew is clearing downed trees near the park entrance, and creating access the Missile Site and Royal Palm. 

  • Assessments are underway for museum/curatorial areas of the Dan Beard Center. 

  • Utilities have been partially restored to park headquarters.

  • One lane has been cleared from the main entrance to Flamingo and efforts will continue today to widen the road for heavy equipment. 

  • The water/wastewater treatment plant in Flamingo is not operating.

  • Air Operations will assess Florida Bay potential stranded vessels.

  • Additional law enforcement and security staff are in place.

Atlantic Coast National Parks


Canaveral National Seashore (Fla.)

  • The park is partially open and power has been restored.

  • Cleanup up and debris removal is underway.

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument (Fla.) - CLOSED

  • Debris clean up continues.

  • Restrooms are not functioning.

Cumberland Island National Seashore (Ga.) - CLOSED

  • Power is still out in downtown area where park facilities are located and on the island.

  • Initial inspections indicate the docks at St. Marys waterfront have sustained significant damage.

  • On the mainland waterfront, there are abandoned boats and debris.

  • Areas to the north end of Sea Camp have not yet been assessed.

Fort Frederica National Monument (Ga.) - CLOSED

  • An assessment team is on site.

  • A saw team will be working at the site on Saturday.

Fort Matanzas National Monument (Fla.) - CLOSED

  • Assessments found no damage to the Fort Matanzas structure on Rattlesnake Island.

  • There is extensive damage to the dock.

  • The vessels, San Pelayo and Trinite, were both damaged. 

  • Staff is cleaning up the grounds today.

Fort Pulaski National Monument (Ga.) - CLOSED

  • The park received near-record level flooding.

  • There is limited access to the fort. Both wooden drawbridges washed away. 

  • The roof (veranda) on the fort has been blown off and some of the boards underneath have been displaced. There are also concerns about a support column that may have shifted.

  • Treating and testing of well water is ongoing.

  • Staff are assessing the lighthouse.

Fort Sumter National Monument (S.C.)

  • The park experienced near record level flooding but the water is receding.

  • Fort Sumter is closed until further notice, but Fort Moultrie and Liberty Square facilities are open.

  • The cannon on site need stabilization.

Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve (Fla.)

  • The Fort and dock at Fort Caroline both have extensive damage.

  • Kingsley Plantation has multiple down trees and power outages.

Additional closures exist throughout the Southeast Region, but local park employees are handling cleanup efforts. A full list of affect parks and updates on the status of these parks can be found at


Last updated: September 16, 2017

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