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Watch Sea Turtle Rescued During Ian Cleanup

Major Florida Keys infrastructure remains intact and Key West International Airport reopened to commercial service Thursday, and a juvenile sea turtle was rescued after tropical storm–force winds and surge from Hurricane Ian impacted the island chain.

Visitors disembarked from an American Airlines flight Thursday morning in Key West, as city crews worked to remove downed tree limbs and cleanse debris from streets and landmarks including the famed Southernmost Point.

Key West was the most impacted area of the 125-mile-long contiguous Keys island chain, while the Upper and Middle Keys experienced fewer affects because Ian passed further west of those areas.

One family on Stock Island, adjacent to Key West, got a surprise as they cleaned seaweed from around a boat ramp: a green sea turtle hatchling  buried in about a foot of seaweed. Eight-year-old Khannan Mellies and his family promptly named the tiny turtle “Ian,” and it was transported to the Florida Keys-based Turtle Hospital in Marathon for care and an eventual release back into the wild.

As of 3:30 p.m. Thursday, electrical power has been restored to all but about 60 customers in Key West and is fully operational throughout the other Keys. Freshwater delivery from the local aqueduct authority was operational throughout the storm.

Traffic is moving freely on the Florida Keys Overseas Highway, according to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

Almost all Keys lodging establishments escaped significant storm impact and are open, tourism officials reported. Keys attractions, watersports operations, state parks, restaurants and bars are open or reopening.

No mandatory visitor or resident evacuation orders were issued by the Keys’  emergency management office during Ian’s passage, because sustained hurricane-force winds were not forecasted for the region.

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