The Florida Keys post-Irma
However unhappy at the debris piles, Keys residents don’t seem to have lost their senses of humor. “Can’t drown a conch,” reads a spraypainted message along the road.
And in most regards, the Keys seem well on the way to recovery. Key West, on the relatively soft side of Irma’s eye, looks unscathed. Visitors line up at the corner of Whitehead and South streets to take selfies at the “Southernmost Point” concrete buoy, repainted after being defaced by the storm. “Anyone who is open is doing very well,” commented Key West attorney Bart Smith.
The new Perry Hotel, for example, opened in May, lost only a couple days from the storm and has enjoyed strong occupancy since, says Brad Weiser of Miami-based developer Hostmark Hospitality. “This is one of the best hotel markets in the United States,” Weiser says, on a par with San Francisco, New York and Honolulu, the nation’s best. “We’ve been thrilled.”
Citizens and the Keys
- Statewide, damage from Hurricane Irma generated 62,500 claims for state-run insurer Citizens Insurance. Of those, 9,092 were for insured properties in the Keys.
- Average claims statewide were $13,827. In the Keys, the average Citizens claim was $14,848.
- Citizens spokesman Michael Peltier says the deciding factor in claims trends was whether a home was built to the current building code — elevated to the 100- year flood plain and with the exterior built to withstand 180 mph winds. Homes with metal roofs fared much better than homes with composite shingles.
- Peltier says it’s likely that many residents will not rebuild in the Keys and will take their insurance settlement and sell the property. For Citizens, 60% of the insured homes were not compliant to current codes. Many residents will not have enough insurance proceeds to cover the code compliant changes the homes will require.
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