MIAMI (AP) — The Latest on Hurricane Irma in Florida (all times local):
Officials in the devastated Florida Keys say they agonized over reopening parts of the island chain after Hurricane Irma, knowing residents were desperate to assess the damage, but worried about harsh living conditions for those who returned.
County Mayor George Neugent said during a news conference Saturday that electricity, sewer and water are intermittent and warned those returning to bring their own supplies.
Officials opened up U.S. 1 on Saturday all the way south to Marathon for residents, business owners, disaster workers and supply trucks. The same groups will have access all the way to Key West on Sunday.
Keys officials are setting up nearly two dozen checkpoints in the hardest hit areas staffed by law-enforcement to make sure only authorized residents and relief workers get through.
Government offices and schools could reopen September 28.
Progress is slowly underway in the badly damaged Florida Keys where Hurricane Irma made landfall.
The Salvation Army is flying in supplies to devastated areas in the Florida Keys, including provisions to serve 10,000 hot meals a day.
The organization set up a field kitchen in Marathon on Friday, providing the first hot meals for many since Irma made landfall about a week ago. They’re also providing rebuilding funds and vouchers to residents there.
Coast Guard officials also gave the greenlight to re-open the Port of Key West with some restrictions on Friday. The port has been closed since Sept. 8.
Authorities are knocking on doors and urging Florida residents who live near the Withlacoochee River to evacuate, warning of potential record-high flooding in the coming days in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
Hernando County Sheriff’s officials said in a news release Saturday that their officers, along with firefighters and wildlife officials encouraged residents in Talisman Estates, Riverdale and other flood prone areas to leave….