As Atlantic hurricane season nears, Monroe County wants to make sure Florida Keys residents are prepared.
One big change in Monroe County’s hurricane plan is that Florida International University will no longer be a shelter for the general public, according to Irene Toner, director of Monroe’s Office of Emergency Management.
She says only Monroe residents with special needs will shelter there. The general population will instead stay at Miami-Dade Fair Grounds, which will allow pets.
“It’s really, really important because you do have a lot of people that refuse to evacuate if they cannot take their pets with them,” Toner says.
The county will provide buses for anyone with no way to get off the Keys.
The hurricane evacuation protocol is different for visitors and residents. Visitors are asked to leave during any category storm. For Category 3 and higher, residents must evacuate as well.
Monroe County is also hosting a panel on hurricane complacency. The goal is to remind people that hurricane preparedness is important – even though a storm hasn’t hit in about a decade.
The event is Tuesday, May 26, and organized by Monroe County's Tourism Development Council and the Lodging Association of the Florida Keys and Key West. Rick Knabb, National Hurricane Center director, will give the keynote address.
Other presenters include Jon Rizzo, warning and coordination meteorologist from the Key West National Weather Service; Bryan Koon, the state of Florida’s emergency management director; and representatives from Monroe’s Emergency Management office.
Andy Newman handles media relations for the Florida Keys and Key West tourism council. He says it will be a “free-form discussion.”
For more information, visit monroecountyem.com.