Caravan of Canoes Cares for the Keys

   With the winds of Hurricane Irma gone, residents of the Middle Keys feel they have been forgotten with little or no help from the government of Monroe County.    

   Yes, the State of Florida and the Federal Government was quick to react bringing food, water, ice and security.  In most cases utilities were restored in reasonable fashion but the mounds of trash that lines the streets of Big Pine Key and Cudjoe seems to have slipped between the cracks along with the neglected waterways.

   Out of the chaos of Irma emerged Lisa Miletti and her husband Geno who continue providing meals for those in need with the assistance of donations from the main land.  Their acts of kindness are ongoing and were instrumental in starting the spark of a self-cleanup effort of Big Pine Key. 

   Local, Brian Vest took the cleanup idea to the next level by publicizing the plight of Big Pine on Facebook, bringing the need for help to the public eye outside the area. 

   This resulted in a caravan of canoes and kayaks from Miami, Homestead and neighboring Keys. All were well fed at the start giving them the energy to plunge into the mud and mangroves dragging and piling debri on a barge constructed from floating drums and pallets that were salvaged from the trash. 

   At the end of the day an estimated 3 ½ tons of waste was collected and piled for hopes of collection by Monroe County.

  Though this effort was a glowing success, it is just a scratch on the surface of what must be done. Yes, the canal leading into Tropical Bay Estates regained much of its pre-hurricane luster but there are dozens of areas that remain untouched and need your help.

   According to Brian, “additional cleanup caravans are in the planning.  Just keep eye and ear out…let’s do it again!”  For details, follow or friend Brian Vest on Facebook to see how you can help or join in.

   As for the 50 participants during this effort, at the end of the day all were offered a delicious BBQ meal and an invitation to return…hopefully YOU will join them!