News Release Date: September 26, 2017
Contact: Brent Everitt, 850-393-7952
Contact: Dana Soehn, 865-712-4928
Contact: Elizabeth Stern, 202-230-2974
Homestead, Fla. – National Park Service (NPS) teams continue working in parks throughout South Florida and along the Atlantic coast, coordinating the bureau’s response to Hurricane Irma. After three weeks of operations, the NPS Eastern Incident Management Team (EIMT) is transitioning to the Intermountain Incident Management Team (IIMT) on September 28.
Immediate objectives for this new team remain to support employee emergency needs, conduct damage assessments, and remove debris in the affected areas. Currently, more than 373 NPS employees from 39 states and 114 national parks and offices 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.
A new deployment of the Eastern Incident Management Team (EIMT) has been established in San Juan, Puerto Rico to coordinate resources already in the field along with incoming resources in response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
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 26:
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.
- Electrical power has been restored to the Preserve Headquarters; rolling blackouts are expected as permanent fixes are established.
- Preserve facilities have sustained extensive roof damage that has become more evident as heavy rains moved into the area over the last several days.
- A mold assessment contractor has been hired to evaluate preserve facilities.
- The paved section of the Loop Road (approximately 6 miles) is clear, but the unpaved portion of the Loop Road remains closed due to downed trees and 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.
- Saw crews completed work on Elliott Key, and continue to work removing damaged trees and clearing debris on Adams Keys.
- Debris clearing continued at University Dock and Convoy Point.
- Crews have removed damaged dry wall from the Discovery Center.
- A crane removed 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 are expected to resume Friday, September 29.
Everglades National Park – PARTIALLY CLOSED
- The main park road will open to the public at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning providing access to popular park destinations including the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center and Anhinga Trail in Royal Palm.
- The park will begin reopening areas throughout the park in phases as appropriate.
- Sawyer crews are continuing to clear the main park road south to Flamingo Bay, as well as, parking areas and boardwalks in the Mahogany Hammock, West Lake, and Shark Valley areas.
- The park is developing a plan to bring in temporary structures to house the Gulf Coast Visitor Center operations and park offices.
- Dump trucks and heavy equipment continue to remove mud, salt, and debris from the Flamingo Bay area, and crews continue to clean the Flamingo Bay Visitor Center.
- The Arborist Incident Response team continues to remove damaged limbs from trees near the Flamingo Bay Visitor Center.
- The removal process for derelict vessels has begun.
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.) – PARTIALLY OPEN
- 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 parks are closed along the Atlantic coast, but are handling closures with park staff. For updates on the status of all parks visit http://go.nps.gov/hurricane.