Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 5, 2006

Hurricane damage no longer noticeable

By Andrea Sachs
Washington Post

On Oct. 24, Hurricane Wilma blew through the Florida Keys, stirring up the seas and palm trees with fierce winds and a powerful storm surge.

Four days later, though, 91 percent of hotels and attractions had reopened to visitors.

While the popular vacation destination took an economic hit, said Andy Newman, spokesman for the Florida Keys tourism council, "physically, the tourism infrastructure was not heavily impacted."

In the three months since Wilma, the island chain has repaired the damage caused by flooding and wind gusts (the former was much worse than the latter). Highways are now clear of fallen debris, plus or minus a stray piece of wood, and in the Lower Keys and Key West, the trees are nearing full greenery.

The property tally is equally encouraging: Only one or two properties have shuttered. Hidden Harbor Motel in Marathon, for example, will be converted into resort condos.

"The vacation experience," said Newman, "is absolutely solid."