FIU will not house Keys evacuees this season

Monroe County residents worry where they'll go

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MIAMI - At Florida International University, emergency managers for the University held a training session to test their hurricane plan.

" We think people should take responsibility for those under their protection," said FIU CFO Dr. Kenneth Jessell. "We have to take care of our students, faculty and staff."

This year one thing they will not be taking care of: all Keys Evacuees. For the first time in 20 years, the school is no longer the mainland evacuation shelter for Monroe County. School officials said the school will only shelter special needs residents.

Since 1992, FIU has been the mainland evacuation shelter for Monroe County. Last year, the school and the county could not reach an agreement to continue that service. Instead, FIU officials felt that they could better serve Monroe County by sheltering special needs evacuees and their caregivers. This leaves the rest of Monroe County residents without a mainland location to go to.

"It's not an ideal situation," said Monroe County Emergency Manager Irene Toner. "If there is a category 3 or higher we will have to work with our partners and the state. We are going to do what needs to be done to keep our residents safe."

Toner says she has travelled all over Miami Dade and Broward Counties looking for an alternate shelter but to no avail.

If Miami Dade shelters are open, residents can go there. But since most of the suitable shelter locations are schools like FIU, they are all concerned about instances when Monroe County is evacuated and others are not required to.

Toner says she is confident her residents will have a place to go when a storm threatens.

So who's ultimately responsible? The State. Governor Rick Scott can sign an executive order stating FIU or another location has to house the evacuees.

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