Hurricane

Four shelters open in the Keys as Hurricane Irma’s track shifts toward island chain

A steady stream of traffic heads North on Overseas Highway as mandatory evacuations continue in Monroe County and the Florida Keys on September 6, 2017 due to Hurricane Irma.
A steady stream of traffic heads North on Overseas Highway as mandatory evacuations continue in Monroe County and the Florida Keys on September 6, 2017 due to Hurricane Irma. Getty Images

As the 5 p.m. advisory on Hurricane Irma shows the storm nudging west, which could mean a potentially devastating blow to the Florida Keys, Monroe County on Friday afternoon said it will open four shelters of last resort.

The four shelters will open at 7 p.m. Saturday. No services will be available at those sites. And, they only will be open until tropical storm force winds subside.

Up until this development, Monroe County had told all its residents and visitors to evacuate. It was not operating any shelters, the county had said.

But with Irma becoming a bigger threat to the Keys with its latest shift, county managers decided to open these buildings to provide a safe location to ride out the storm. Irma could make landfall somewhere in the Middle Keys early Sunday morning with potentially catastrophic winds, then continue toward the Southwest coast. These shelters will close again after the unsafe weather conditions have passed. They are not recovery shelters.

NASA satellite imagery shows Hurricane Irma inching closer to Florida as residents prepare for the worst on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017.

The shelters are:

▪ Coral Shores High School; 89951 Overseas Hwy; Plantation Key FL 33036 (MM89.9 ocean side)

▪ Marathon High School; 350 Sombrero Road; Marathon, FL 33050 (MM 50 ocean side)

▪ Sugarloaf School; 225 Crane Blvd.; Sugarloaf Key, FL (MM 19 gulf side)

▪ Key West High School; 2100 Flagler Ave.; Key West, FL 33040 (MM 2)

Should you decide to shelter in place, you may register your location with Monroe County. To register download the Virtual Badge app to your smartphone and complete the registration form.

Howard Cohen: 305-376-3619, @HowardCohen

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