By David Higgins, Facilities Manager
2017 has been a long year for hurricanes and it is not over yet. Hurricane season ends November 30th but hurricanes have been known to go through December and January of some years. Hurricane Irma definitely affected many people throughout the state of Florida and caused lots of damage and flooding. The Seminole Tribe of Florida and their members where affected in all of the reservations. The Ah-Tah-Thi- Ki Museum is located on the Big Cypress Reservation in Hendry County and was affected by Hurricane Irma. The storm only caused minor damage to some of our buildings and some of our traditional chickees.
The most impacted thing at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum by hurricane Irma was our mile long boardwalk which meanders through our cypress dome forest. We had over 13 large cypress trees fall through and on top of our boardwalk and numerous amounts of smaller trees and branches.
With the hard work and dedication of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum staff and the Tribal Historic Preservation staff we worked to remove all of the debris from the boardwalk. The Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum maintenance staff went to work on removing the large cypress trees and repairing the boardwalk. It took a little over two weeks of long, hard, hot days and hard work and a little getting wet in the cypress dome but the repairs and removal of the trees was completed.
The Ah Tah Thi Ki Museum’s boardwalk is one of its most popular aspects of the museum and visitors come from all over the country to enjoy the museum and its boardwalk. It was very important to us to get it opened as quickly as possible for our visitors and Tribal members. There are still traces of the large cypress trees that fell from Hurricane Irma and they will slowly decay and help give back nutrients to the rest of the cypress forest. I want to invite you on behalf of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum’s maintenance staff, the museum staff, THPO staff, and the Seminole Tribe of Florida to come and visit their incredible museum and boardwalk. To walk around their boardwalk and look for yourself, the strength of Hurricane Irma and the incredible force it took to take down 140+ year old trees. Learn more about the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum: check out our website http://www.ahtahthiki.com/ , Twitter, and Facebook.