With the storm track of Category 5 Hurricane Irma headed for the Florida Keys, Monroe County will be issuing a mandatory visitor evacuation expected to begin at sunrise on Wednesday. An evacuation for residents also will be issued. The time has yet to be determined.
However, tourists and residents are encouraged to start evacuation plans now and the earlier people leave the Keys the less traffic they are likely to encounter.
“If ever there was a storm to take seriously in the Keys, this is it,” Monroe County Emergency Management Director Martin Senterfitt said. “The sooner people leave, the better.”
Now is a good time for tourists and residents to fill their tanks with fuel and complete their evacuation plans. There will be no shelters in Monroe County. Information about out-of-town shelters is in the works.
Monroe County is closing all of its government offices and county parks on Wednesday. Essential county employees, emergency management and fire-rescue personnel will be at work. The Monroe County Emergency Operations Center in Marathon is opening at noon today.
Visitors with near-term plans to travel to the Keys should postpone them until the storm passes and an infrastructure assessment can be completed.
The Monroe County School District said at the 9 a.m. Monroe County emergency management briefing that all schools will be closed Wednesday. Monroe County’s three hospitals — Lower Keys Medical Center in Key West, Fishermen’s Community Hospital in Marathon and Mariners Hospital in Tavernier — have begun plans to evacuate their patients. Monroe County’s Health Department also is closing Wednesday.
While law enforcement operations will obviously continue in Monroe County, administrative offices will be closed starting on Wednesday, said Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay,
Tuesday is the last day to sign up for the Monroe County Special Needs Registry. For more information or to register online, go to www.fl-monroecounty.civicplus.com/index.aspx?=148 or call (305) 292-4591.