News Release Date: September 25, 2017
Contact: Brent Everitt, 850-393-7952
Contact: Katie Lawhon, 717-253-5776
Contact: Dana Soehn, 865-712-4928
Homestead, Fla. – Homestead, Fla. – The Incident Management Team continues to prioritize support for employee emergency needs, especially for staff in the six national parks in the Caribbean. Support staff have responded to the parks in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to help establish communications and provide critical supplies. As travel conditions improve, an Incident Management Team is expected to be established in the Caribbean this week.
The 110-foot MV Fort Jefferson, normally used to transport staff and supplies to Dry Tortugas National Park, has been loaded with over 24 tons of supplies and equipment for national parks in the Caribbean following Hurricane Maria. The vessel departed today and will make the 78-hour trip from Key West to the Caribbean national parks this week.
Dry Tortugas National Park reopened today. Most areas of the park, including the campground, will be open with limited activities and a partial closure of the moat wall. Ferry operations from Key West will resume September 28.
The NPS Eastern Incident Management Team currently has 392 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 beginning its third week of operations and is composed of NPS employees from 111 national parks in 38 states.
The public is reminded that many parks are closed to all use, including motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, due to safety concerns during cleanup operations. Updates on recovery efforts are listed below.
News from the field - September 25:
Caribbean National Parks
All six 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 addressed and completed.
South Florida National Parks
Big Cypress National Preserve – CLOSED
- The preserve remains closed to all visitor use and access is limited to land owners only.
- The boil water notice has been lifted within the Preserve.
- Electrical power has been temporarily restored to the Preserve Headquarters. As the service transitions back to permanent service, the area should expect rolling blackouts.
- Preserve facilities have sustained extensive roof damage that has become more evident as heavy rains moved into the area over the last several days.
- The paved section of the Loop Road (approximately 6 miles) is clear, but the unpaved portion of the Loop Road remains closed due to clearing operations.
Biscayne National Park – PARTIALLY CLOSED
- Boca Chita Key is open. All other facilities remain closed including the Dante Fascell Visitor Center, Elliott Key, and Adams Key.
- Park waters are open for navigation, although boaters are advised to use extreme caution.
- A saw crew is removing damaged trees and clearing debris on Elliott and Adams Keys.
- Repairs are in progress at University Dock and Convoy Point.
- A crane is removing a displaced section of dock along with boardwalk pieces.
Dry Tortugas National Park – OPENED ON SEPTEMBER 25
- Dry Tortugas National Park is open to recreation and camping in all areas except the following which have been temporarily closed:
- Small sections of the moat wall walk around Fort Jefferson on Garden Key;
- The area immediately around the wrecked sailboat on the northeast shore of Bush Key;
- The dock at Loggerhead Key is closed to boat use and foot traffic due to missing deck boards;
- The area immediately around the previously collapsed Boathouse; and
- The park gift shop.
- A Notice to Mariners is in effect for the navigation channels within the park due to missing or damaged aids to navigation. Proceed with caution.
- Users of mooring buoys within the park assume all risk.
- Ferry operations from Key West will resume September 28.
Everglades National Park – PARTIALLY CLOSED
- Terrestrial areas of the park remain closed. Park waters are open, including use by commercial permit holders of Everglades National Park.
- Boaters are advised that the Flamingo Marina is closed and no services are available. Internet and cell services have been restored.
- 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.
- Multiple hazards exist throughout park waters.
- Twenty-six housing units in the Flamingo Bay Area were mucked out yesterday. Power washing operations are now working in the Flamingo Bay Visitor Center.
- Dump trucks are working in the Flamingo Bay area to remove mud, salt, and debris.
- Sawyer crews and an Arborist Incident Response team are working on damaged and downed trees near the Flamingo Bay Visitor Center.
- Sawyer crews are clearing roads in the Long Pine Key area and continuing to clear the main park road south to Flamingo Bay.
- A plan is being developed to address derelict vessels.
Atlantic Coast National Parks
Cumberland Island National Seashore (Ga.) - CLOSED
- Camping reservations have been cancelled through October 11.
- A hunt on the island scheduled for October 16-18 has been cancelled.
- Saw crews and an Arborist Incident Response team continue to work along the main road for the entire the length of island.
- Crews continue to clean the visitor center, museum, and warehouse on the mainland.
Fort Matanzas National Monument (Fla.) - CLOSED
- Visitor Center area of the park remains closed pending removal of hazard limbs and trees.
- Beach and Island areas of the park are open to the public.
- Fort will remain inaccessible to the public until repairs to ferry boats can be completed.
Fort Pulaski National Monument (Ga.) - CLOSED
- Staff continue to clean the fort and visitor center area.
- Crews are documenting damaged trees along trails that will require additional assistance to be removed.
- Plans are being developed for repairs to the damaged roof and the pump house water tank.
Additional updates on the status of these parks can be found at http://go.nps.gov/hurricane.