Key West businesses gradually reopen after Hurricane Irma

Duval Street is slowly coming back to life after Hurricane Irma.

Although not bustling with tourists, people are starting to trickle into bars. 

Sloppy Joe’s Bar opened for the first time in two weeks Thursday.

“We had anywhere between 6 and 8 inches of water in the bar,” manager Rita MacMacain said.

It’s not just for locals to start enjoying some downtime, but also so staffers could start working again. 

“It has been truly amazing how quickly things have turned around and gotten up and just trying to get people back to some normalcy in their lives,” MacMacain said.

When Hurricane Wilma impacted Florida in 2005, Fantasy Fest was canceled. That’s not the case this time around. Locals said the businesses depend on a big event like Fantasy Fest to bring in much-needed revenue.

“We’ve got a lot of these construction guys and contractor guys, you know, they have to eat. They like to drink beer, so they’ll be pumping into the economy,” one resident told Local 10 News. 

Businesses also depend on cruise ships that are a regular sight at Mallory Square. The first cruise ship is expected back in Key West by Sunday.

It’s definitely progress, but there’s still a long way to go.

Some hotels still can’t open because of severe damage. 

Thai Life Floating Restaurant lost its roof during the storm. Capt. Tony’s Saloon, the oldest bar in Florida, is expected to reopen in a week.

Key West gas stations are also finally fueling up, and businesses are posting signs outside to let people know they’re open. 

Despite the setback, many locals know it could have been so much worse.

“Key West proper, besides tree damage, we fared very well,” MacMacain said. “We were very blessed.”

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With Obamacare repeal push, Molina Healthcare cuts jobs in Miami-Dade

Molina Healthcare is cutting about 1,500 jobs from its corporate department and health plans nationwide, and some of those jobs are in South Florida.

The California-based company has a strong presence in Miami-Dade and there were tears at its Doral office Thursday morning when some employees learned they were laid off.

“We are taking aggressive, urgent and determined actions to improve our financial performance,” said Joseph White, the interim chief executive, during a press conference about the April-to-June quarter’s $230 million loss.

In addition to the job cuts, Molina Healthcare will also not be offering government-subsidized marketplace Obamacare plans in Utah and Wisconsin.

Republican Sens. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have a new proposal to scrap President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

Their proposal shifts money and decision-making from the federal government to the states, allows insurers to charge higher premiums to seriously ill customers and cuts Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor, over time. 

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Family-owned Robbie’s optimistic about future after Hurricane Irma

On any given hot Florida Keys day, patrons at Robbie’s would be sitting by the bay, cocktails in hand, or lying down on the docks feeding tarpon. But that’s not how the family-owned business in Islamorada looks today.

“We were very, very concerned,” general manager Cailin Reckwerdt told Local 10 News after Hurricane Irma. “When we came over that bridge for the first time as a family, we were relieved to see what was left.”

Like most businesses, Robbie’s sustained damage from Irma’s wrath. In this case, the strong winds blew off each and every dock. The docks were used by tourists and locals to hang bait out by the water and wait for giant tarpon.

But the strong-willed family is hard at work to rebuild the docks. Reckwerdt said there is a silver lining.

“The pilings are intact, which makes building the docks much easier,” she said.

Robbie’s was founded in the 1970s and has been a staple in Islamorada.

“We have such a love for this place, and yes, my grandpa started it,” Reckwerdt said. “I want to let that legacy live on.”

The property lost most of its trees that once offered cool shade under a hot sun. One thing Robbie’s didn’t lose is the tarpon, which have already been spotted near the docks.

Besides the docks, most of Robbie’s fared well. The roof is still intact and so too, surprisingly, is some of the money patrons have stapled to the wooden structure through the years.

One such dollar bill signifies a couple’s first date and then their marriage, perhaps a sign that Irma is no match for everlasting resilience.

Robbie’s is expected to reopen in a little over a month.

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Amazon facing complaints after possible price gouging on water

After finding empty store shelves ahead of Hurricane Irma, many people are turning to Amazon for water supplies and not happy with what they find.

Accusations are flying that the online giant is price gouging when it comes to bottled water. 

Price gouging is illegal once a state of emergency has been declared in a specific area. Gov. Rick Scott issued the state of emergency order for the entire state of Florida on Monday.

Amazon is currently listing a 24-pack of Aquafina water for $39.99, almost quadruple the normal price during non-emergencies.

A one gallon of Deer Park distilled water is selling on the site for $21.95. 

People have taken to social media to voice their complaints, accusing Amazon of price gouging when people are in dire need of supplies.

@AMarieAlvarez posted a plea to Amazon to “stop greedy people from taking advantage of others situation.”

Sam Caucci asks, “Can someone throw @Amazon in jail for price gouging? Really? $318 for shipping 2 cases of water by Saturday?”

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Dolphins, South Florida companies keep eye on Irma

A person familiar with the discussions says the NFL is considering moving the Miami Dolphins’ season opener against Tampa Bay to another site or earlier this week because of Hurricane Irma.

The person confirmed the discussions to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the league and teams aren’t talking publicly about the options.

Switching the game to Thursday or Friday is being considered, the person said, because Irma could threaten South Florida over the weekend. The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. EDT Sunday in Miami.

Playing the game at another site Sunday is also being discussed, the person said.

The teams share the same bye week in November, but would prefer to avoid moving the game to that weekend.

During a Monday media session, Dolphins head coach Adam Gase said he’s preparing his team to play and will leave the decisions to other team officials.

“It’s out of our hands, they’ll tell us when to play and we’ll show up.”

Meanwhile, Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruise Line announced Monday that it has so far altered itineraries for two of its ships due to Irma’s presence in the Caribbean.

The Allure of the Seas will switch to a Western Caribbean itinerary, while the Celebrity Cruises’ Equinox was also modified.

“Our primary focus will always be the continued safety of our guests, while ensuring we provide the best vacation at sea.” said Owen Torres, manager of Corporate Communications for Royal Caribbean.

American Airlines is allowing passengers whose plans are affected by Irma to rebook flights without change fees.

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