KEY WEST, Fla. – Sunday night marked the calm before Tropical Storm Eta in Key West.
Tourists finally deserted Duval Street as businesses closed their doors ahead of what may be to come overnight.
It was all bad timing for some newlyweds.
“This is our honeymoon. We just got married yesterday,” one of the brides said. “As we were landing today, we’re also hearing about everything that’s going to happen and we’re like, ‘We’re already on the plane.’”
Locals prepared early, moving their vehicles to higher ground and a shelter opened at Key West High School.
Margaritaville was one of the first businesses to shut their doors and board up.
“We get a heavy rain during the high tide and the water rising up through the sewage drain,” Margaritaville Chef Dan Hayes said. “The biggest concern is definitely the flood waters as well as this, so we decided not to open today. We’re concerned with the safety of our staff and making sure they’re home and they’re not caught up in any of this.”
Emergency officials said the worst threat will come in the form of floods, as some areas could get upwards of 18 inches of rain, combined with high tides.
Those living in boat homes and mobile homes were facing mandatory evacuations but many stayed put.
“People get really stubborn about the idea of leaving,” Key West resident Jill Diamond said. “I mean, sometimes it appears irrational but, you know, this is their home and they feel the need to be here to protect their property.”
Local 10 News reporter Andrew Perez was in Marathon early Monday morning as conditions started getting worse around midnight when the wind and rain started to really pick up.
Perez was stationed at a marina as the water was getting choppier before dying off again.
Some residents who live on boats at the marina said they opted to stick it out during the storm, saying they have been through worse storms and their boats are equipped to handle more intense effects than the ones expected with Eta.