KEY WEST, Fla. – With Hurricane Ian expected to skirt along the Gulf Coast of Key West Tuesday, there is still no telling where the powerful storm will make landfall in Florida.
Residents and business owners have boarded up by putting up storm shutters and sandbags as Key West is already starting to see high winds, rain and flooding moving into the Conch Republic.
“Nerves are getting a little high, but hopefully everyone stays safe,” said Justin Ash, a Key West visitor.
Ash told Local 10′s Roy Ramos that this is his first time in the Keys and he really didn’t know what to expect.
The Lower Keys are still under a tropical storm and storm surge watch and with the advice of local residents, Ash says he is listening to all the warnings.
“Some locals said it’s going to hit us, be prepared, so we are going to get some supplies,” said Ash.
At Key West High School, emergency management allowed hundreds of residents to park their cars on higher grounds at the school.
According to officials, the cafeteria is also being used as a shelter.
Doug Heathman, a Key West visitor, told Local 10′s Roy Ramos that he had plans to leave, but those plans were recently canceled.
“I was supposed to leave today, but our flight got canceled so we are stuck here for a couple of days,” said Heathman.
RV Resident Alicia Blay was asked by Local 10′s Roy Ramos, “Are you concerned about the wind?”
“Yeah, the high wind is going to be bad,” Blay replied.
After speaking with those who didn’t want to take the chance riding out the storm in their houseboats, RVs or mobile homes, some like Brandon Hunter, who lives on a boat, said the decision to evacuate is a hard one to make.
Part of me wants to go back and stay but what happens if something happens to me or the boat and no one is going to get me during the hurricane,” said Hunter.
According to authorities, some shelters and local airports in the Keys are still open but they have canceled all commercial inbound and outbound flights.
Officials are urging visitors to check with their airlines for updates on their flights.