Hurricane Ike serves as a reminder of how lucky we have been here in the Florida Keys.

A week after the eyes of the Florida Keys were all on Hurricane Ike, residents of the Florida Keys watched as Ike slammed into Texas this weekend. While we are all grateful that Ike spared us, our thoughts are with the people of Texas as they begin the arduous recovery after the storm passes. It has served as a reminder of how lucky we have been.

Visitors began returning to the Florida Keys & Key West Thursday after officials lifted a precautionary visitor evacuation order initiated Sept. 6 because of a threat from Hurricane Ike.

Since Thursday, travelers have been arriving by plane, cruise ship and motor vehicles as visitors drive down the scenic Overseas Highway from mainland Florida to begin vacations in Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, the Lower Keys and Key West.

The island chain was brushed by sustained tropical storm-force winds of 40 to 50 mph, according to meteorologists at the Key West National Weather service, when Ike’s center passed about 145 miles to the south-southwest of Key West. Hurricane-force winds remained well away from the Keys.