Monroe County announced a "revised" re-entry system Wednesday aimed at ensuring people essential to recovery are quickly allowed back into the Florida Keys following a hurricane.
"The revised program includes lessons learned from Hurricane Irma," county spokeswoman Cammy Clark said in a statement Wednesday.
Agencies approved by county Emergency Management can obtain placards for their employees that can be placed on their vehicle dashboards so they won't get held up at the police checkpoint in Florida City. Tempers flared at that checkpoint and another set up in Upper Matecumbe Key in the days after the Category 4 Irma hit the Keys Sept. 10.
Under the revised re-entry program, Clark said businesses and organizations that are not currently on the approved list but believe "they have an essential response mission" can apply for placards designated for the second wave of people allowed back into the county.
Enrollment is open from June 15 through July 31.
"This program also ensures that these emergency workers returning early have a plan to be self-sufficient," Clark said.
Early re-entry is also available to those who complete a 32-hour course and join the newly-formed Monroe Emergency Reserve Corps.
"To become a member of the reserve corps, citizens must go through a community emergency response training program that teaches self sufficiency and other skills necessary during a disaster," Clark said.
Enrollment for the first training classes for instructors is full. Forty people are taking the June 16 and 17 classes.
"Once the instructors receive their certifications, they will begin setting up CERT training for volunteers in locations throughout the Keys," Clark said. "That information will be forthcoming."
The county is also reminding residents to obtain their re-entry windshield stickers now. The stickers are available at the Sheriff's Office headquarters and substations throughout the Keys. When officials let residents back into the Keys after a storm, only those with the stickers will be allowed to pass through the Florida City checkpoint.
"Those who don't obtain them in advance will be delayed getting back into the Keys," Clark said. "They will be detoured to a location out of the county to obtain a sticker."