Florida Keys emergency management personnel are holding a conference call Thursday afternoon to discuss preparations for Tropical Storm Isaac, but it is not expected that mandatory evacuations for tourists will be issued at that time, said Andy Newman, head of public relations for the Florida Keys Tourist Development Council.
While the island chain remains in the cone, visitors who are already in the Keys are being told to monitor the tropical storm. Those with plans to come in the next few days are also being told to watch how Isaac is progressing and be ready to change plans, if necessary.
With the storm not forecast to reach Category 3 or above, emergency management officials do not expect to issue a mandatory evacuation for residents of the Keys.
“When you don’t have to worry about a mass exodus it gives more time to make a decision [on a tourist evacuation],” Newman said.
That means emergency management can wait until 24 to 36 hours before the predicted landfall of Tropical Storm Isaac and still have time to safely evacuate all visitors of the 100-mile island chain, which runs from Key Largo to Key West and has only one main road.
It will be recommended that Keys residents in mobile homes and low-lying areas and on live-aboard boats move to county shelters if the storm is predicted to reach Category 1 or 2 wind levels.