News Release

NPS Incident Management Team Hurricane Irma Update, Friday, September 22, 2017 – 3 pm

A single-masted sailboat lies on its side along a sandy shoreline
A sailboat damaged by Hurricane Irma washed up on the shore at Dry Tortugas National Park.

NPS photo

News Release Date: September 22, 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. –De Soto National Memorial in Florida and Fort Sumter National Monument in South Carolina reopened today, welcoming park visitors for the first time since Hurricane Irma struck 12 days ago. Ten other national parks remain closed or partially closed while the National Park Service (NPS) works to reopen safely.
The NPS Eastern Incident Management Team currently has 381 laborers, saw teams, arborists, heavy equipment operators and other employees on the ground in South Florida, along the Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean, clearing debris and working to safely reopen parks damaged by Hurricane Irma. The Incident Management Team is now finishing its second week of operations and is composed of NPS employees from 95 national parks in 35 states.
Employee accountability and care is the primary concern of the National Park Service, especially for staff in the Caribbean affected by Hurricane Maria. Immediate objectives are to support employee emergency needs, conduct damage assessments, and remove debris in the affected areas. 
Updates on 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 22:

Caribbean National Parks

 All national parks in the Caribbean are closed in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.  Damage assessments and recovery efforts will resume when employee accountability and emergency needs have been completed and addressed.

South Florida National Parks


Big Cypress National Preserve - CLOSED

  • Electrical power has been restored to Ochopee.

  • Preserve staff are removing generators and phasing systems back online.

  • Water treatment plant is online and boil water advisory lifted.

Biscayne National Park - CLOSED

  • Boca Chita Key at Biscayne National Park will reopen tomorrow, September 23,

  • All other Biscayne National Park facilities, including the Dante Fascell Visitor Center, and Elliott and Adams Keys, are closed.

  • A marine notice has been posted to notify mariners of hazards in the waters surrounding the park.

  • Park waters are open for navigation, although boaters are advised to use extreme caution due to marine debris and damage to navigational aids. A marine notice has been posted to notify mariners of hazards in the waters surrounding the park.

  • Boat patrols continue.

  • Cleanup operations continue.

  • The lighthouse on Boca Chita fared well during the hurricane, suffering a few broken windows but no significant damage.

  • Plans are being developed to support an underwater evaluation/assessment team.

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. 

  • The dock at Dry Tortugas is closed to public use.

  • Marine waters of the park, including Garden Key Harbor and Bird Key Harbor, are open for access. A marine advisory has been issued advising mariners of hazards in the waters. Users of mooring buoys assume all risk.

  • The Dry Tortugas vessel, Fort Jefferson, will be used to supply national parks in the Caribbean.

  • Fort Jefferson cleanup continues, as well as repairs.

  • Key West power lines are being repaired.

  • A saw crew is on site removing downed trees.

  • Problems with radio communications are still being addressed.

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.

  • Areas east of the L-67 Canal and south to Buzzards Roost/Grossman's Ridge (commonly known as East Everglades) have opened for private airboating. Boaters should be advised that the only public launch site available is located east of Coopertown. The park cannot be accessed via SW 168th Street until power lines and other hazards have been addressed.

  • Numerous derelict vessels have been identified along the Gulf Coast and in Florida Bay. Staff are inspecting the vessels and posting them with the National Crime Information Center.

  • Air operations and research will be assessing remote areas in hopes that critical research data can be collected.

  • Saw crews and an Arborist Incident Response team are working in Flamingo and Pine Island.

Atlantic Coast National Parks

Cumberland Island National Seashore (Ga.) - CLOSED

  • There are 37 derelict and 10 sunk vessels along the St. Marys waterfront. The U.S. Coast Guard is taking the lead on clearing the area, with boat salvage beginning today.

  • A saw crew and an Arborist Incident Response team are working on the island. 

  • Some large magnolia trees in the cultural landscape of Plum Orchard Mansion and the Grange and cedar trees were severely affected by the storm.

  • Emergency repairs for Plum and Grange are awaiting materials, expected within a few days.

Fort Matanzas National Monument (Fla.) - CLOSED

  • The park remains closed due to pending hazard tree removal.

Fort Pulaski National Monument (Ga.) - CLOSED

  • Emergency metal conservation treatment is underway. 

  • Staff are power washing the picnic area bathrooms. 

  • Walls are being repaired in the maintenance area. 

  • Work to remove fallen and damaged trees on the Dike Trail continues.

  • Staff will be installing new doors on the pump house today.

  • Plans are being developed for repairs to the damaged roof.

  • The pump house/water system needs major repairs.

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 22, 2017