Curfews Lifted in Florida, Enormous Rebuild Begins

Joey Spalding walks back to his truck down the street where he lives on Monday on Tybee Island, Ga. Spalding just finished repairing his house from nine inches of water after Hurricane Matthew passed the island last year. He said Tropical Storm Irma brought three feet of storm surge into his living room. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

MIAMI (CN) — Curfews were lifted and Miami International Airport reopened Tuesday as 34,000 workers — 19,000 from Florida Power and Light and 15,000 members of U.S. military services — began the enormous task of repairing and rebuilding Florida from destruction wrought by Hurricane Irma.

Miami International Airport was partially reopened early Tuesday. Full service is expected to return Friday.

Miami Beach residents, who were ordered to evacuate, were allowed to return Tuesday, but beaches there and throughout Miami-Dade County are still closed until further notice. The dusk-to-dawn curfew in Miami-Dade County has been lifted.

Public schools in Miami-Dade County will remain closed until they are inspected for safety. Classes at the University of Miami will reopen on Monday, Sept. 18. Florida International University remains closed until further notices.

Half of the traffic signals have been restored in Miami-Dade County. All intersections without working traffic lights should be treated as four-way stops.

Roughly 500 people remained in public shelters, and were being consolidated in two or three places. The Port of Miami reopened, but not for cruises. The Coast Guard is still inspecting for damage.

Drinking water in Miami-Dade County is generally safe, except in some flooded coastal areas, where people are advised to boil it before drinking.

In three heavily populated south Florida counties — Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach — more than 1.4 million people still are without power, FPL said.

The situation was far worse in the Florida Keys, which remained without electricity, without cellphone service and without internet access. But residents were allowed to return Tuesday, to assess the damages to their homes and businesses. According to CNN, 25 percent of the houses in the Keys were destroyed.

In northern Florida, power was restored, then lost again, then “iffy” Tuesday, residents reported. Courts remained closed in Duval, Clay, Nassau, St. Johns, Flagler, Putnam and Bradford counties. The federal court in Jacksonville was expected to reopen Wednesday.

The only good news was that Hurricane Jose, following in the track of Irma, has stalled and is predicted to meander toward the northeast in coming days — away from the Eastern Seaboard.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends that anyone affected by Hurricane Irma save copies of bills and proof of repair payments so they can apply for federal help. Information on the process is available at www.Disasterassistance.gov.

(Courthouse News reporters Amanda St. Germain in Jacksonville and Izzy Kapnick in Palm Beach contributed to this report.)

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