Do not call 911 during hurricane; 'We will not come get you,' Monroe County official says

Stores, gas stations in Florida Keys begin shutting down ahead of storm

MARATHON, Fla. – Monroe County officials warned residents Friday that it's their last chance to get out of the Florida Keys before Hurricane Irma descends upon Florida.

"We were all hoping it would take that right-hand turn and go away from us, but apparently that's not happening. This folks is the big one," Monroe County administrator Roman Gastesi said. "We are prepared. The folks in the Keys are leaving. They have left. There are still a few folks there that we're worried about. Please leave. You still have time to leave. It's now time to leave."

Gastesi warned residents who choose to stay in the Keys that authorities and other first responders will not respond to calls during the storm.

"When the storm starts -- when the winds get to be about 45 mph -- we will not come get you," he said. "So please don't even think about dialing 911, because we're just not going to respond."  

All hospitals in the Keys have already shut down. Gastesi urged residents who are still in the area to reach out to Monroe County officials if they need assistance getting out of the area.

"It's your responsibility now," Gastesi said. "We can help you. You still have time."

The Monroe County Emergency Hotline number is 800-955-5504.

Gov. Rick Scott said the Florida Keys should begin feeling the effects of Hurricane Irma by Saturday morning. 

Many stores and gas stations in the Florida Keys shut down Friday morning and officials said only five gas stations in the area will be receiving gas throughout the day.

Local 10 News reporter Ian Margol said buses began evacuating residents to shelters in Miami-Dade County at 6 a.m. as others tried to make a drive for it to safer ground.

Margol spoke to residents in the area who said they have lived in the Keys for 30 years and hoped Hurricane Irma's track would shift, but they finally decided to adhere to the evacuation order on Friday.

"We were waiting to the last minute, hoping it would change," Don Scheidell said. "What can I say. It's a bad one. It's twice the size of Andrew. It's getting scary."

The mandatory evacuation order for residents in the Keys was ordered at 7 p.m. Wednesday. 

The last Greyhound bus left Key West at 8:30 a.m. Friday and the last Key West Transit evacuation bus is leaving at 5 p.m. 

Miami-Dade Transit Route 301, which runs from Marathon to 304th Street, will still run while weather permits.

The Port of Key West closed at 8 a.m. and no commercial flights are departing or arriving Friday in the Keys until after the storm passes.

The Snake Creek drawbridge also closed at 8 a.m.

Monroe County will open four refuges as a last resort for people who have opted to stay in the Florida Keys.

The refuges open at 7 a.m. Saturday.

Officials said the refuges are only to provide a safe location to ride out the storm rather than to be stuck in a vehicle or building that is unsafe.

Below is a list of the refuges, which will close as soon as unsafe weather conditions have passed:

  • Coral Shores High School at 89951 Overseas Highway in Plantation Key 
  • Marathon High School at 350 Sombrero Road in Marathon
  • Sugarloaf School at 225 Crane Blvd in Sugarloaf Key
  • Key West High School at 2100 Flagler Ave. in Key West

Those who are staying home during the storm are asked to register their location with the county by downloading the Virtual Badge app to their smartphone and complete the registration form.

On the iTunes App Store or Google Play store, search for "Virtual Badge." Download the app and create an account. Once you have created an account, register with the "Monroe County, FL" organization and "Monroe Resident" badge type. You will be taken through steps to register your information.  

Click here to view a video on specific badge registration instructions. 

Download the Local 10 Hurricane Survival Guide and the Max Tracker mobile app for iOS and ANDROID. 


About the Authors:

Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.