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Tourist Areas on the Mend After Storm

October 25, 1998|TIMES STAFF AND WIRES

A month after Hurricane Georges cut a swath through the islands of the eastern Caribbean, the Florida Keys and the Alabama and Mississippi coasts, some vacation sites are still closed but many are either recovered or well on their way. With a few key exceptions, resort areas along Georges' path should be cleaned up and open in plenty of time for the December-to-April high season.

If you're traveling near an affected area this month or in November, it's wise to check with the local tourist bureau or the hotel you've booked. Below, a general update on some key areas:

* Florida. Virtually all tourism facilities in Key West, Key Largo, Marathon, Big Pine Key and Islamorada are fully open for business. Some exceptions: Little Palm Island Resort, off Big Pine Key, is hoping to reopen by late December; and Marriott's Casa Marina in Key West is open, but half its rooms will be out of service until late November. Also, several Keys oceanfront parks, including Indian Key, Bahia Honda and Sombrero Beach, remain closed. Information: (800) FLA-KEYS.

* Puerto Rico got hit all over. San Juan, though extensively damaged, is recovering more quickly than outlying areas. The north shore got off lightest; the southeast and southwest coast will take the longest to recover. Information: (888) 858-9582.

* U.S. Virgin Islands felt Georges' wrath but came away in fairly good shape. Most large hotels are open for business.

* Antigua and Barbuda. The southern coast of Antigua experienced flooding and power outages. David Fernandez, Antigua's U.S. director of tourism, said all the hotels will be reopened by Dec. 15, and most by the end of this month.

* St. Kitts and Nevis. Both islands were hit hard, with the worst damage on the northern section of St. Kitts from Basseterre to St. Paul. The government said 85% of the housing stock was damaged. Electricity is back on in the capital and in the Frigate Bay tourist area, but many hotels, including the Four Seasons in Nevis, are still closed.

* Dominican Republic and Haiti. Here, Georges killed more than 300 and caused more than $1 billion in damage. Both countries' infrastructure suffered widespread damage. The worst damage was in the east, west and northwest of Santo Domingo, especially along the Haiti/Dominican border.

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