Hurricane Irma was one of the most devastating hurricanes in modern history. The storm impacted the small Island of Barbuda with sustained winds of 185mph making it the strongest hurricane in Atlantic Ocean recorded history.
On Sunday, September 10th at about 6:00 AM, Hurricane Irma made direct impact on the Lower Keys as a category 4 storm with sustained winds of 130+ MPH. Big Pine Key and No Name Key took a direct hit by the eastern side of the eye wall.
While the wind certainly was a damaging factor, perhaps the most devastating and most concerning was the impact made by the storm surge. Big Pine Key only has an elevation of about 3 or 4 feet above sea level at its highest point. It was reported that there was between 3 - 5 feet of storm surge on the island on top of which there were wild crashing waves.
Upon returning to the Island, residents that left under the mandatory evacuation found utter devastation to most man made structures as well as an undetermined amount of damage to the wild habitats, particularly in the lower and middle keys. Clean up crews will be working for months to come to help residents get back on their feet and get the islands cleaned up. We will be monitoring moth populations closely and posting findings when it becomes safe to travel and work again in Big Pine and No Name Keys. Until then, our hearts and prayers are with the residents of the Lower Keys. We trust that these storms are part of the normal eco-system of these islands and while things may be devastating from a human perspective, the wild life has its ways of surviving and thriving through this most awesomely powerful adversity.