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Florida Keys reopen after hurricane Irma’s devastation

IANS | Miami |

The Florida Keys, which was devastated by the hurricane Irma last month, has reopened amid a $1 million ad campaign designed to lure visitors back to the US island chain.

“We know we have a long way to go before the Keys fully recover,” Monroe County Mayor George Neugent said on Sunday.

“But because tourism is our top economic engine and many of our residents’ livelihoods depend on it, we also know that we need to begin asking visitors to return.”

The keys, which stretch about 200 km off Florida’s southern tip, were closed after Irma made landfall on September 10 in Cudjoe Key as a Category 4 hurricane, reports Efe news.

The “We Are 1” television, radio, digital and print campaign will be launched on Monday in the US and foreign markets to bring visitors back to the islands.

The campaign’s name is a reference to US 1, known in the keys as the Overseas Highway, which links the mainland to the string of islands.

Irma, the worst storm to hit the Florida Keys, killed over 15 people and destroyed an estimated 25 percent of the structures on the islands.

Officials closed the keys for 10 days after the storm.

Power, water service and cellphone service have been restored in most of the area stretching from Key Largo to Marathon, as well as in Stock Island and Key West, officials said, adding that cable television and Internet service were still limited.