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Cleanup Work After Hurricanes Irma, Maria Ongoing In Florida, Georgia, Caribbean


The National Park Service's Motor Vessel Fort Jefferson has been on duty in the Caribbean, delivering supplies for hurricane recovery operations and returning Park Service personnel to their homes/NPS

Nearly 300 National Park Service employees continued to work Monday on cleaning up the mess Hurricanes Irma and Maria left after roaring through the Caribbean and into South Florida and into Georgia. While access was slowly improving to some parks, others remained closed to the public.

As parks reopen, visitors are being urging to be alert for water on roads, particularly during heavy rains as debris may wash onto roads and trails.

In the Caribbean, all six National Park System units were closed Monday. All employees and their immediate family members have been accounted for. Employees at San Juan National Historic Site, Virgin Islands National Park, and the parks in St. Croix have begun preliminary cleanup of park grounds and visitor centers. All park units were working under a 100 percent power outage and emergency electrical needs were being met by short-term use of generators.

Park Service incident management team leaders have been coordinating logistics to establish operations to ensure that field teams have the tools and safety resources needed to begin deploying crews to parks. The leadership planned to continue to prioritize support for employee emergency needs, establish communications, and provide critical supplies for emergency stabilization.

On the mainland, the Park Service offered the following update on Monday:

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 Monday in preparation for the park reopening later 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 were limited throughout the park.

* Park boat operators continue marking underwater debris.

* Shark Valley, the Gulf Coast Visitor Center, and the Flamingo area were closed.

* Rising flood waters in the Shark Valley area were 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 cancelled camping reservations through October 18.

* Crews continued to clean the visitor center, museum, and warehouse on the mainland.

Fort Matanzas National Monument (Fla.) – PARTIALLY OPEN

* Visitor center area of the park remained closed pending removal of hazard limbs and trees.

* Beach and Island areas of the park were 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 were back at work in preparation for reopening the park this week.

* Water tank replacement and electrical work was planned for Monday afternoon and Tuesday.

* An Arborist Incident Team was to begin work Monday to remove damaged limbs and trees.

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