NPS Incident Management Team Hurricane Irma Update, Tuesday, September 19, 2017 – 3 pm

NPS crewmember up in a crane bucket reviews damage to a tree
At Big Cypress National Preserve, NPS arborists are working on trees impacted by Hurricane Irma.

NPS photo

News Release Date: September 19, 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. – The National Park Service (NPS) Eastern Incident Management Team (Team) currently has 311 laborers, saw teams, arborists, heavy equipment operators and other employees on the ground throughout South Florida and along the Atlantic coast clearing debris and working to safely reopen parks damaged by Hurricane Irma. The Incident Management Team is now in its second week of operations and is composed of National Park Service employees from 88 parks outside the affected areas, in 35 states.
All national parks in the Caribbean are currently closed and recovery efforts are on hold until Hurricane Maria passes. NPS employees and their families in the Caribbean are sheltering from Hurricane Maria.
The safety and support of all NPS employees working in the parks is the priority for the NPS response. Immediate objectives are to support employee emergency needs, conduct damage assessments, and remove debris in the affected areas. 
Updates on damage assessments and recovery efforts are 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 19:

Caribbean National Parks

  • All national parks in the Caribbean are closed in preparation for Hurricane Maria. Damage assessments and recovery efforts will resume when the storm passes.

South Florida National Parks


Big Cypress National Preserve - CLOSED

  • An Arborist Incident Response Team is working on downed trees along Turner River Road.

  • press release has been issued reminding the public about recreational closures.

  • The preserve remains under a “Boil Water” advisory.

  • Overflight to assess backcountry conditions and determine the extent of damage to backcountry campsites and trails is scheduled for today.

  • Preserve staff continue to coordinate with local emergency operations.

Biscayne National Park - CLOSED

  • A Marine Notice will be posted to notify mariners of hazards in the waters surrounding the park.

  • The assessment teams are continuing to assess islands.

  • Elliott Key water treatment is still not functioning.

  • Repairs are being made to communications and network equipment.

  • Staff are continuing to remove debris.

De Soto National Memorial - CLOSED

  • Staff are continuing to remove 

  • Damage assessments are 

  • In addition to downed trees, docks that have washed up on the park’s north shore will need to be 

  • Florida Forest Service County Forester will be assessing the park’s notable gumbo limbo trees. 

Dry Tortugas National Park – PARTIALLY CLOSED

  • Terrestrial areas of the park including all areas at Garden Key and Loggerhead Key remain closed to the public. 

  • Marine waters of the park to include Garden Key Harbor and Bird Key Harbor are open for access. A marine advisory is being issued advising mariners of hazards in the waters. Users of mooring buoys assume all risk.

  • Damage assessments continue.

  • Saw crews will be on site today. 

  • Employees are on site clearing debris. 

  • One small NPS vessel at Key West was damaged during the storm. 

Everglades National Park – PARTIALLY CLOSED

  • Terrestrial areas of the park remain closed while park waters are open for access, to include commercial permit holders of Everglades National Park.

  • Boaters should be advised that the Flamingo Marina is closed and no services are available there.

  • Air boat concessions will start operating as trails are assessed. 

  • At Gulf Coast, Flamingo, and Key Largo, staff are conducting boat operations to assess marine waters. 

  • At Shark Valley and Pine Island, staff are continuing to remove debris. 

  • Air Operations is assessing Florida Bay and the Northeast District.

  • Pine Island still has utilities out.

  • All employees have returned to work.

  • In the Gulf Coast area, clean-up efforts utilizing heavy equipment are continuing.  

Atlantic Coast National Parks


Cumberland Island National Seashore (Ga.) - CLOSED

  • The Coast Guard is taking the lead on cleaning up the St. Marys waterfront, working with the park and the city.

  • Assessment teams continue their work on the island, assessing roofs and docks.

  •  Debris cleanup and removal continues island-wide. 

Fort Frederica National Monument (Ga.) - CLOSED

  • Power has been restored throughout the park.

  • The main and back entrances have been cleared.

  • An Arborist Incident Response team and saw team are continuing to clear hazardous trees.

  • The curatorial building has been cleared of a fallen tree.

  • Two government vehicles were damaged by trees.

  • Bloody Marsh debris clean-up continues.

Fort Matanzas National Monument (Fla.) - CLOSED

  • Dock and boardwalk repairs will be needed before the historic fort can reopen.

  • An archeological assessment has been completed.

  • An assessment team is on site.

  • Debris removal and cleaning of the grounds continues.

Fort Pulaski National Monument (Ga.) - CLOSED

  • Assessment teams are assessing the damage to the fort today.

  • The north pier trail has been cleared of trees and debris yesterday.

  • Fallen trees on the dike system trail will be cleared today.

  • Water testing continues at the site at the West End and the Visitor Center.

  • The bridge at the demilune is back in place and needs some minor adjustment. 

  • A temporary sally port bridge will be constructed to provide access to the fort to start cleanup and repair the roof. 

  • The original sally port bridge will be inspected today and plans are underway to retrieve it from the marsh. 

Fort Sumter National Monument (S.C.)

  • Fort Sumter itself remains closed, all other sites are open.

  • Removal of debris and mud at Fort Sumter continues.

  • Staff are working to get electricity restored to the dock, repair damaged dock railings, and repair septic at the fort.

Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve (Fla.)

  • Fort Caroline visitor center and Cedar Point boat launch are open.

  • Cedar Point trail system remains closed until downfall cleared.

  • Staff and volunteer cleanup crews have cleared the Fort Caroline Visitor Center area and trails of debris.

  • Kingsley Plantation district remains closed and cleanup efforts are continuing.

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 19, 2017

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