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Hurricane Wilma Strikes U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service South Florida Refuges - Damages Facilities


October 27, 2005

Tom MacKenzie, 404/679-7291

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that Hurricane Wilma’s wind, rain and flooding damaged its buildings and knocked down trees across roads, trails, fences and gates on national wildlife refuges (NWR) throughout south Florida. Three days after the October 24 hurricane five refuges remain closed for safety reasons due to flooding, blocked roads, or damaged facilities. All other south Florida refuges, closed prior to the hurricane, have been re-opened. All Service employees are safe and have been accounted for.

Initial Damage Summary:

Crocodile Lake NWR in north Key Largo: – Open. Primary facilities appear unscathed.

Florida Panther NWR in Naples – Closed. Office is open. Trees are down at refuge, but they managed to miss every car and building. Roof damage and possible content loss in intern house.

Hobe Sound NWR in West Palm Beach – Closed. This station was operating from temporary office trailers (post-Frances/Jeanne) and the trailers are extensively damaged. No power. All power poles for about a mile are snapped and are leaning into the refuge over buildings and quarters. No facilities will be accessible until poles are replaced and power is available.

J.N. "Ding" Darling NWR in Sanibel – Closed. There is roof damage to the Visitor Center and Admin Building. Other primary facilities have minimal damage. No power.

Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee NWR in Boynton Beach – Closed. Eleven buildings have roof damage. There is a need for chainsaw work on trails and roads. Some employee’s homes sustained damage. No power.

National Key Deer NWR in Big Pine Key – Closed. There was severe flooding in the Keys. The headquarters on Big Pine Key is still inundated with water. The roof on a pole barn came down on top of two vehicles, and another building has some water damage. At least one Fish and Wildlife Service quarters on Big Pine Key is flooded. Employees’ homes have sustained some damage and one personal vehicle was lost. Lower Keys out of power, upper Keys have power.

Pelican Island NWR in Sebastian – Open with some areas flooded. There was some wind damage and some trees were downed. Structures damaged were already slated for repair due to previous hurricanes. Dikes burst in an impoundment area already slated for repair due to previous hurricanes. Most of Indian River County is out of power.

Ecological Services Office in Vero Beach – Office building is undamaged and has power.

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