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Florida Keys Fortunate to Have Escaped Damage from Frances; Subtropical Island Chain is Open to Visitors.

FLORIDA KEYS -- The Florida Keys are again welcoming visitors, following encountering some of the outer spiral feeder bands from Hurricane Frances.

Although the core of Frances missed the Keys by more than 125 miles, according to the National Weather Service office in Key West, tropical storm-force winds did affect portions of the Keys Sunday.

But there was no significant impact on the Keys infrastructure or tourism facilities, officials said Monday.

The Keys electric grid is in excellent shape and operating normally according to a spokesperson from the Florida Keys Electric Cooperative and Keys Energy Service. Both services are contributing manpower for electrical restoration efforts in central east Florida counties.

The Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority says the freshwater pipeline from Florida City is intact and there are no problems.

U.S. Highway 1, the Overseas Highway, is open in the Keys. At this time, there are no reports from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office or Florida Highway Patrol indicating any problems with U.S. 1.

A survey of several gas stations throughout the Keys indicates good fuel supplies at most stations in the Upper and Middle Keys. There are limited supplies in the Lower Keys and Key West, but tanker trucks are beginning to replenish stations in those areas. There are issues with gas supplies in other parts of south and central Florida, but fuel delivery has begun in those regions as well.

Key West International Airport is open and flight service has resumed to Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said airport director Peter Horton. Delta Connection is to resume their three daily, roundtrip flights from Atlanta Monday afternoon. Service to Orlando and other Florida airports should resume Monday afternoon or by Tuesday morning. Florida Keys Marathon Airport is operational as well, Horton said.

Greyhound Bus Lines is to resume service Tuesday, according to Rick Warwick, manager of the Greyhound's Key West office.

"We are very fortunate to have escaped damage from Hurricane Frances," said Michael Ingram, the chairman of the Monroe County Tourist Development Council. "Our compassionate thoughts are with those in affected areas."

More information on the Keys is available at 1-800-FLA-KEYS or on line via www.fla-keys.com.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Sep 6, 2004
Words:360
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