(Key West, FL) It’s been more than two weeks since Hurricane Ian battered Florida and more than a week since remnants of the storm soared up the East Coast and dumped heavy rain and wind gusts of up to 40 miles per hour pounded some parts of New York and New Jersey.
Fortunately, some residents in the Sunshine state didn’t have to wait too long before local, state, and federal government aid poured in to help residents. Additionally, relief efforts from other states, including New Jersey, also trickled in to help storm-ravaged Floridians. Gov. Phil Murphy dispatched more than 100 members of the National Guard to Florida at the end of September to assist in relief and recovery efforts. According to various sources in New Jersey, some members of the National Guard and other volunteers will remain in Florida indefinitely, as recovery efforts continue.
In the city of Key West, the southernmost city in the United States—about 90 miles from Cuba–damage from the storm was relatively minimal, and some residents, including some small business owners, were eager to share their stories of how Hurricane Ian disrupted business operations. Bobi Lo Re, the owner of Island House, an exclusive and private resort in Key West, said there were many cancellations and reschedules. “We had to amend some guest promotional events and incentives we had in place at the time due to the storm,” he said. The resort received only minor damage from Ian—and remained operational throughout the storm. Additionally, some major hotel chains with locations in Key West, including the Hyatt and Hilton, received cancellations and rescheduling requests from numerous guests during the last week of September and early October.
Phil Lavoie, a realtor and vacation property manager in Key West, said while a significant portion of the state was devastated by Ian, Key West was largely spared. For example, Lavoie said dozens of his clients postponed or canceled trips to the city based on photos and reports they saw from towns and cities that were hundreds of miles away from Key West. “People need to know that we were mostly spared and many of the vacation and other amenities the city has to offer were and still are fully available.” Lavoie said several people had their boats torn from the storm from docking stations by gale-force winds. “A friend’s boat was missing for several hours during the height of the storm,” he said. “Another one lived on his boat and lost the boat and most of his belongings.” He added most people who live on small boats are not wealthy–even in Key West. “Even the most modest tropical storm or hurricane can be detrimental to people with minimal means,” he said.