by Lisa A. Grimaldi | September 05, 2017
With Hurricane Irma on track to hit South Florida this weekend, Monroe County, which encompasses the Florida Keys, has issued a mandatory evacuation for visitors and residents. The following statement was released this afternoon by the county: "With the storm track of Category 5 Hurricane Irma still 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." The statement continued: "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."

In related news, Florida Gov. Rick Scott has asked President Trump to issue an emergency declaration to unlock federal resources for all 67 counties in the state ahead of the storm.