Officials: No Visitor Evacuation for Isaac at This TimeVisitors, Residents Must Remain Indoors During Storm
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Forecast Friday by the National Hurricane Center that Tropical Storm Isaac should remain a tropical storm as it passes through the Florida Keys, county officials have decided not to issue a visitor evacuation.
Normal protocol for visitor evacuations is a significant probability a hurricane will impact the area. But the 5 p.m. Isaac forecast, issued by the NHC, shows a tropical storm watch for the region. That watch is likely to evolve into a tropical storm warning Saturday morning, officials said. Tropical storm-force winds are expected in the Keys Sunday morning, said Andy Devanas of the Key West National Weather Service.
The absence of a visitor evacuation should not be interpreted by visitors as an "all-clear," stressed Irene Toner, Monroe County Emergency Management Director.
"During the storm, visitors and residents must remain indoors," Toner said. "They should not be outside, on roadways, beaches and certainly not on, or in the water, until the storm is well away from the Keys."
Visitors residing in boats and in campgrounds in tents and recreational vehicles should relocate to safe buildings. State and county parks are to close when a tropical storm warning is issued.
"We understand the hardship caused by a visitor evacuation, especially for foreign guests," she said. "There are plenty of hotels in the Keys built to withstand severe storms, so visitors should be safe, as long as they remain indoors.
Jodi Weinhofer, president of the Lodging Association of the Florida Keys and Key West, said that despite the lack of the visitor evacuation, she was confident the Keys hospitality industry would not penalize travelers who desired to end their stay early or wanted to cancel or postpone their trips because of Isaac.
Officials encouraged travelers with near-term plans to visit the Keys are to postpone trips until weather conditions improve, which is anticipated for Tuesday. Commercial flight cancellations are expected for Key West International Airport beginning Saturday night, at least through Sunday, said Peter Horton, director of Monroe County airports.