NPS Incident Management Team Hurricane Irma Update, Saturday, September 16, 2017

NPS crewmember props up an all-but-destroyed park sign
Damage from Hurricane Irma at Everglades National Park

NPS photo

News Release Date: September 16, 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
Homestead, Fla. – National Park Service (NPS) teams of experts are working in parks throughout South Florida, the Caribbean, and along the Atlantic coast, coordinating the bureau’s response to Hurricane Irma. The NPS Eastern Incident Management Team (Team) is concluding its first week of operation. Immediate objectives are to support employee emergency needs, conduct damage assessments, and remove debris in the affected areas. Currently, 119 NPS employees from outside the affected parks are assisting, with additional resources expected to be ordered in the coming days.
The safety and support of all NPS employees working in the parks is the priority for the NPS response to the hurricane.  
Information from damage assessments and updates on the recovery efforts is listed below. The public is reminded that many parks are closed to all use, including motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, due to safety concerns during cleanup operations.
News from the field - September 16:

Caribbean National Parks 


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. 

  • The road to the campground washed out. 

  • Putting a plan here together to complete stabilization and move to recovery.

  • 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

  • Roofs were damaged at a maintenance building and a ranger station.

  • Several access roads are still inundated with water.

  • Water treatment plant is back online.

  • There are continued utility outages, including a “boil water” advisory. 

  • Assessments are ongoing at visitor facilities and administrative areas.  

  • Damage to back country campsites and trails is unknown. 

  • Additional law enforcement and security is in place.

Biscayne National Park - CLOSED

  • A major leak the water main has developed in the last 24 hours. 

  • Temporary restrooms are on site.

  • Staff are on site continuing debris removal.

  • Significant damage to park facilities, including headquarters and docks. 

  • A few Stiltsville structures have been damaged.

  • Numerous trees are down. 

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

De Soto National Memorial - CLOSED

  • Power, phones, and water have been restored

  • Staff are on site continuing debris removal.

Dry Tortugas National Park - CLOSED

  • A 40 feet section of the moat wall collapsed, with significant damage on additional 15 feet.

  • Numerous trees down. 

  • The main dock, harbor light, water systems, housing, and communications systems are okay.

Everglades National Park – CLOSED

  • Gulf Coast area: continuing clean-up using heavy equipment.

  • Roads in East Everglades are impassible due to downed power lines.

  • Utilities are out at Shark Valley. 

  • Royal Palm access road has been cleared; associated trails are blocked by downed trees. 

  • Hidden Lake and Long Pine Key access roads are blocked. 

  • Power restored to park headquarters, the Dan Beard Center and the Robertson Building.  

  • Access has been opened to Missile Site.

  • Cultural and resource assessments continue.

  • Flamingo road access is being widened from one lane.

  • Crews are clearing the West Lake parking area. 

  • Air Operations to assess Florida Bay for hazards has been delayed due to mechanical issues.

Atlantic Coast National Parks 


Castillo de San Marcos National Monument (Fla.)

  • The grounds and fort are now open.

  • Debris clean up continues. Downed trees remain on site.

  • Temporary restrooms are on site.

Cumberland Island National Seashore (Ga.) - CLOSED

  • An interagency team that includes Georgia Department of Natural Resources, US Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, City of St. Marys, and NPS is assessing how to manage the debris in and out of the water at the St. Marys waterfront. It is anticipated the waterfront area will be closed for an extended amount of time.

  • Saw crews are clearing the main road and an arborist crew is working on the cultural landscapes.

  • The assessment team is on the island and working their way north.

  • Sheds and a historic structure on the south end of the island were damaged.

  • Power is still out at the Visitor Center on the mainland and on the island. 

  • The docks at St. Marys waterfront have sustained significant damage. 

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 lighthouse was inspected and there was only minor damage to one window pane. 

  • The park is developing plans to move both bridges so they can be reinstalled as soon as possible. 

  • One of the culverts on the dike system was compromised, and has a 12-inch hole. 

  • Treatment and testing of well water is ongoing.

Fort Sumter National Monument (S.C.)

  • Crews are removing debris and mud at Fort Sumter today. 

  • Due to the corrosive nature of salt water, the historic cannons were rinsed with fresh water as a preventative measure.

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

Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve (Fla.) - CLOSED

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

  • Power is out at Kingsley Plantation where numerous trees and powerlines are down.

  • Crews are cleaning up storm debris.

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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