MONROE COUNTY, Fla. – Tropical Storm Elsa will move into the Florida Straits Monday evening, and it will pass near the Florida Keys early Tuesday. Residents of the lower and middle Florida Keys will feel sustained tropical storm winds of 50 mph or higher.
On Monday afternoon, in Monroe County, there was a tropical storm warning from Craig Key westward to the Dry Tortugas and a tropical storm watch from east of Craig Key to Ocean Reef. Local 10 News Hurricane Specialist Bryan Norcross said the storm’s outer bands are a concern.
Monroe County Mayor Michelle Coldiron said residents need to make sure their boats are secure, store their patio furniture inside and buy supplies. Roman Gastesi, the Monroe County Administrator, said houseboat and trailer residents should evacuate and seek safer shelter. This applies to campgrounds, recreational vehicles, travel trailers, live-aboard vessels, and mobile homes.
“Either leave the Keys by sunset tonight, Monday ... or prepare to shelter in place in a safe structure through the duration of the storm,” Kristen Livengood, a spokeswoman for Monroe County, wrote. “Residents should have their homes, yards, and boats secure by sunset tonight, prior to sheltering in place.”
Gastesi estimates there were about 40,000 tourists Monday in Key West. Coldiron asked tourists to return to their hotel rooms or vacation rental homes when sunset comes. Gastesi wants tourists to avoid driving Monday evening.
“For them to all get into cars and take off at the same time, we don’t want them to be on the road when the heavy winds start,” Gastesi said.
On Sunday, Gov. Ron Desantis said sustained power outages are likely, so those with generators will need to make sure the exhaust is outside and not in an enclosed area. In the last four years, Florida has had more people die from carbon monoxide poisoning than from storms’ direct impacts, DeSantis said.
“You can’t put it inside your house. You can’t put it inside your garage,” DeSantis said.
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