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After Hurricane Irma: What you need to know

Editor’s note: This post was updated at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 14.

We’re here to answer your most urgent questions after Hurricane Irma about getting back to Miami and getting around the city if you’re already back. We’ll keep updating this as more information becomes available. Comment below or on Facebook or Twitter with any other questions you have.

When will the airport reopen?

Miami International Airport and Ft. Lauderdale International Airport resumed regular service on Sept. 13. A backup on incoming flights means that you could still have issues with your flight back, so check with your airline on your status.

The Palm Beach International Airport reopened on Sept. 11 and is operating as normal.

I want to drive back already! How are the roads? Is gas available?

The roads are open and reports from our community indicate it’s moving smoothly but slowly out there, with backups at key junctions like I-75 and I-295 (near Jacksonville). There are still some downed trees and lights out when you get off at exits.

Officials are still asking people to wait a bit longer to come back if they can. If you’ve got a free place with power, it’s not a bad idea, in our humble opinion. (We say as we scramble from spot with power to spot with power…)

There are a few exits between Georgia and Miami and with “no gas” signs, but no one has reported anything dire. Make sure to keep filling up before you get below half a tank just to be on the safe side. Tolls remain suspended on state highways. The app GasBuddy has been invaluable for drivers.

We’ll update this as we know more. Many Miamians are sharing details here on Instagram and here on Facebook.

What’s the power situation?

Power is coming back bit by bit, but some homes are also losing it after having it for a few hours. Don’t get lazy about keeping your devices charged if it comes back on – you could lose it again.

We had to laugh a little bit at this message from FPL on their map where they’ve asked residents to report outages: 

We’re experiencing widespread outages and there is no need to report your outage at this time. Rest assured, we are committed to restoring your power safely and as quickly as possible. Please click on the shaded county to find the latest outage information for your area.

You can find that map here.

If you’re out of town and want to know if you have power before coming back, you can check your status here.

FPL is prioritizing who gets power back first, by how many people are affected per area. Hospitals, and police stations come first, then grocery stores and on to individual homes and businesses. Their order of how they are currently restoring power is here.

If I live in an evacuation zone, can I go back?

Miami Beach and Sunny Isles re-opened for residents on Sept. 12.

Monroe County has re-opened to residents with proof of residency up to a certain point. Emergency officials are checking the safety of the bridges in the Keys bit by bit, and gradually expanding how far south they are letting people return.

Other evacuation zones are not closed, but might still be impassable due to downed power lines and trees. You should proceed with extreme caution anywhere, pretty much – and if you don’t have to be out, then don’t be out. The clearer we keep the roads, the easier it is for them to clear the roads and deal with power outages.

How long will the curfew last?

A countywide daily curfew from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. has been removed. So you can be out driving freely, but there’s a lot of traffic lights still out so treat those like a four-way stop.

Some cities still have curfews in effect, like Miami Beach. City officials there are still enforcing a curfew from 12 p.m. to 6 a.m.

How do I know if food in my fridge or freezer is still safe to eat?

It comes down to the temperature of your fridge. Avoid opening it as much as possible to keep it cold for as long as possible. Consider a cooler for the items you have to access often so you don’t have to open the fridge or freezer as often.

Here are safety tips and temperature guidance from the USDA.

What grocery stores are open?

Miami-Dade County is maintaining an updated list here. Most are open at this point, but have limited hours.

What do I do with my debris and garbage?

Miami-Dade County is prioritizing cleaning up major roadways before neighborhood streets. You should start collecting the downed branches from your yard and placing them curbside. But don’t mix your hurricane yard trash with your house trash. You need two separate piles for them to be picked up.

Neighborhood trash and recycling centers have reopened and have extended hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. if you want to take your garbage.

Regular garbage pickup has resumed as normal, but bulky pickup and recycling are still suspended. 

Is my tap water safe to drink?

Yes. Miami-Dade tap water is safe to drink and there aren’t any boil-water advisories in the county. But if you do have very low water pressure, it’s recommended you boil your water before drinking it.

I left my car in a city or county garage. When should I get it?

The Metrorail garages are open, and if you left your car in one, the county is asking you to go pick it up ASAP. That’s because Metrorail services are back to full strength.

If you left your car in a parking garage on Miami Beach, you have until the morning of Monday Sept. 18 to go and pick it up, free of charge.

Free parking in any City of Miami parking garage or on street, will continue until Monday, Sept. 18. Check here for updates and deets. 

If you are unsure how long free parking in garages lasts in your city, you can call your local city government to double check.

When will MetroBus routes be back in service?

These are the Metrobus routes back to regular service starting Sept. 13:

  • 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 11, 16, 19, 21, 24, 27, 29, 33, 36, 40, 46, 51, 54, 62, 71, 72, 75, 77, 82, 87, 88, 93, 95 (Civic Center), 99, B, C, E, G, H, J, M, S, 104, 115, 120, 123 (Beach Local), 132, 150, 183, 202, 207, 208, 211, 249, 254, 267, 272, 277, 286, 288, 297

Metrorail is already back to full service, and while Metromover is not working Thursday, Sept. 14., there is a shuttle service that is going until midnight.

Make sure you have the Miami-Dade Transit Tracker app to keep you updates for when more roads are cleared, what the delays are, and when more routes open up.

Will the county start spraying Naled after Irma?

Miami-Dade County offices will reopen on Monday, Sept. 18. They have not announced any plans to do aerial spraying of the mosquito-control insecticide, Naled after Hurricane Irma left us with some standing water.

  • Kayla O’Donnell

    Thank you for this!! I just found it but had I known about it during the evacuation this would have been so incredibly helpful!! The whole thing was challenging but not knowing what was going on was really tough. Keep up the great work!

  • Thank you for sharing Ariel.
    I remember my experience in Miami after Katrina. It’s a struggle to know what’s going on, so appreciate your documentation.

    http://www.nynomads.com
    Living sustainably and rent free in NYC

  • Rachel Lyons

    Very informative — Thank you.

  • Terry Murphy

    Thanks, Ariel. Keep that localized news flowing.