Hurricane Ian’s effects: Storm surge floods areas of Key West

Flooding and tropical storm force wind gusts of up to 50 mph affected residents on Tuesday and Wednesday in the Florida Keys as Hurricane Ian moved away west-northwest of Naples.

Storm surge flooded areas of Key West, where the airport and the port closed. Monroe County Public Schools also closed. Officials turned Key West High School into a shelter for 118 people.

Josh Martin, a Conch Republic resident, who is used to stormy weather, said Ian’s effects overnight felt stronger than usual. Ian, he said, was too close for comfort.

“It was picking up a little more than I thought … We checked the storm tracker to see how close we were to the eye and we were like, ‘It is starting to look pretty nasty!’”

The sky was gray and there was flooding and debris in areas that are usually full of tourists. Some residents felt safe enough to remove their shutters from their windows on Wednesday afternoon.

Steve Dykstra, a tourist who was exploring Duval Street, the heart of the island city, said he was concerned.

“It was really wild out there. The trees were just swinging,” Dykstra said about Tuesday night.

Hurricane Ian impacts Florida on Wednesday.

Officials reported there were thousands of customers without power in the Lower Keys and asked residents to stay away from downed or low-hanging powerlines. Several transformers blew up overnight.

FLOODING THREAT

A storm surge warning — to indicate a danger of life-threatening inundation of up to four feet — was in effect from Key West to Big Pine Key.

With the King Tide, meteorologists warned the highest storm surge in the Middle Keys will be on Wednesday afternoon, and in the Upper Keys’ bayside areas on Thursday and Friday.

Businesses and residents of homes in the lower elevation areas of the middle and upper Florida Keys, from Marathon to Ocean Reef, are at risk for up to three feet of storm surge.

The U.S. Postal Service announced a temporary suspension of services.

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Torres contributed to this report from Miami.

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