News Release

NPS Incident Management Team Hurricane Update for South Florida and the Atlantic Coast, Monday, October 02, 2017

An underwater SCUBA diver in a black diving suit examines a coral formation in green-blue water.
An NPS diver assesses damaged Elkhorn Coral at Biscayne Bay National Park after Hurricane Irma.

NPS photo

News Release Date: October 2, 2017

Contact: Murray Shoemaker, 435-260-2422

Contact: Sandy Snell-Dobert, 970-481-5835

Contact: Dana Soehn, 865-712-4928

Incident information

Photos of Hurricane Irma damage and response


Homestead, Fla. – In addition to the primary objectives of caring for park employees and providing emergency stabilization of park sites, the National Park Service Incident Management Team has also deployed a team of resource specialists to assess natural and cultural resource damage. Specialists are surveying resources in park museums, unique natural habitats including coral reefs, and archaeological sites on park lands and underwater.


Resource teams have been assessing damages to cultural resources from shipwrecks and cannons to archives and historic maps. Divers have been assessing resources along reefs and shipwrecks at Dry Tortugas National Park and Biscayne National Park which can be especially vulnerable to damage caused by sand and debris movement. Natural resource specialists have also been studying potential impacts on threatened and endangered species including the Florida Panther.


More than 244 NPS employees from 90 national parks and offices across 36 states continue to support seven parks in South Florida and the Atlantic Coast to help them ready for reopening. Parks plan to open more areas throughout the week as stabilization work continues.


The public is reminded that many parks remain closed to all use, including motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, due to safety concerns during cleanup operations. As parks reopen, please be alert for water on roads, particularly during heavy rains. Debris may still wash onto roads and trails.

News from the field – October 2:

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 unpaved portion of the Loop Road remains closed due to downed trees. Clearing operations were temporarily suspended due to the presence of poisonwood. Equipment has been ordered to help accomplish safe debris removal in this area.


Biscayne National Park – PARTIALLY OPEN

  • Park Employees returned to work today in preparation for reopening this week.


Everglades National Park – PARTIALLY OPEN

  • The Homestead visitor entrance is currently open to Paurotis Pond.
  • Several trails, including the Gumbo Limbo Trail, and Pa-hay-okee Overlook remain closed.
  • Clearing operations continue along the main road toward Flamingo in addition to operations in the Flamingo, Shark Valley, and Gulf Coast areas.
  • The park will close at night for safety and security purposes.
  • Restrooms and water options are limited throughout the park.
  • Park boat operators continue marking underwater debris.
  • Shark Valley, the Gulf Coast Visitor Center, & the Flamingo area remain closed.
  • Rising flood waters in the Shark Valley area are threatening administrative buildings and housing.

Atlantic Coast National Parks


Cumberland Island National Seashore (Ga.) – PARTIALLY OPEN (Museum only)

  • The Cumberland Island Mainland Museum is open.
  • Due to the continued closure of Cumberland Island National Seashore, the park is cancelling camping reservations through October 18.
  • 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.
  • The fort will remain inaccessible to the public until repairs to ferry boats can be completed.

Fort Pulaski National Monument (Ga.) – CLOSED

  • All employees are back at work in preparation for reopening the park this week.
  • Water tank replacement and electrical work is planned for this afternoon and Tuesday.
  • An Arborist Incident Team will begin work today to remove damaged limbs and trees.

Additional parks are closed along the Atlantic coast, but are handling closures with park staff. For updates on the status of all parks visit



Last updated: October 2, 2017

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