Islamorada Beer Company co-founder, Jose Herrera considers himself a lucky man today. On the phone, he updates New Times on his brewery and taproom's status. "We were blessed. My partner, Chris, took a boat to the Keys yesterday and found no structural damage to the building.
That being said, the beer maker paints a grim picture of the Florida Keys' current status. "Marathon got hit really, really hard and there's no way to know how Key West is. There's zero communication in the Keys."
The Florida Keys took a direct hit when Hurricane Irma made landfall in the island chain early Sunday.
Herrera said that the residents and businesses of the Keys are his friends and neighbors. "I know the locals that drink here and the restaurants that serve our beer." With that, he and his partners decided to spring into action.
The brewers have rented a trailer to fill with supplies. "We're bringing water, food, clothes, diapers, butane canisters. A little bit of everything. My partner, Chris, is a contractor, so he's bringing a chainsaw and he's been on a Bobcat since he got there, helping to clear debris."
The partners are also bringing the generator from their Fort Pierce brewery, along with a satellite phone. "That way, at least people can connect with family and friends and let them know they're safe." Right now, Herrera isn't sure where the drop point will be in the Florida Keys. "It depends on roads and conditions." Following Islamorada Beer Co. on Facebook is a good way to keep track of supplies as the caravan gets closer to its destination.
Islamorada Beer Company has set up a Go Fund Me page to help raise money for supplies. Herrera says he plans to make as many trips with supplies as he can. So far, the campaign has raised just over $2,000.
He's also looking for a few Miami breweries to step up and volunteer to become drop locations for people to leave donated supplies. If anyone is interested in helping, email him at [email protected]
With all the destruction and a repair bill that's likely to hit hundreds of millions of dollars, Jose is certain that the Florida Keys will rise again. "I think of it as the Keys being under renovation. We will rebuild. Our lifestyle is still everyone else's vacation."