Hurricane Ian is shutting down a lot of Monroe County

September 27 — What we’re seeing right now is the main reason we talk about hurricane preparedness and Monroe County is working to keep everyone safe during the height of Hurricane Ian. 

Kristen Livengood, Public Information Officer for Monroe County, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.4FM this morning to talk about how the county is handling Ian. 

County offices are currently closed for today. Most city offices are also closed, as well as the courts. 

A general population shelter was opened in Key West for any live-aboard boaters or anyone who lives in an unsafe structure or in a low lying area, just to be on the safe side. 

That opened at noon today at Key West High School. 

Livengood explained, “You get a small area to ride the storm out. Bring any supplies that you need with you. It’s not the most comfortable, but it’s definitely at least a safe spot to make sure that you are safe during the storm.” 

The shelter will remain open as long as necessary. 

Monroe County has left boat ramps open for any last-minute preparations — just don’t use them when the squalls pass. Safety is the number one concern. 

Livengood reminded, “We’re really pushing you should’t be out on the roads right now, today starting after noon. We’re expecting the weather to deteriorate pretty rapidly after noon today.” 

A significant amount of water will likely be pushed down from Florida Bay. 

Emergency Management works closely with the National Weather Service in Key West. 

Any 911 calls will be responded to as long as it is safe to do so. 

Livengood said, “With tropical storm force winds, I think once the winds get over I believe the threshold is either 35 or 40 miles per hour, they make that call on whether or not it’s safe to be out driving.”

When an evacuation is announced (which hasn’t happened yet with Ian), it’s mostly to keep residents safe because of the difficulty of the Sheriff’s Office and Fire and Rescue to get out to help people. 

Livengood said, “They should be able to respond (now), but they’ll make that call should that happen. The big thing, too, is that Trauma Star will get grounded probably likely later on today. So any major transports would have to be done by ground ambulance because the helicopter won’t be able to fly.” 

The airport is open, but flights have been canceled. For questions on flight changes, call the airlines directly. 

Any electric outages will be restored as quickly as possible. 

The big issue is standing water and remember the mantra: turn around, don’t drown. 

Livengood pointed out, “If you see standing water, you might think that it’s rain water. A lot of times it’s going to be salt water and that’s going to ruin your car in the long run. So it’s really best to stay home today and not be out driving around.”

Waste Management from the Seven Mile Bridge to Key West is not in service today, so don’t put trash out by the road. 

Livengood reminded, “Residents are responsible for their trash, so even in a tropical storm or hurricane situation, should their trash blow over or get tipped over and blow down the street, they are responsible for it.” 

Wednesday is kind of up in the air for trash removal. When trash service does resume, in the City of Key West, the Tuesday routes will be picked up first, followed by the regularly scheduled days. 

For Big Pine to Stock Island, Tuesday will be skipped and Friday will be the next regularly scheduled pick up day. 

Marathon garbage is running as normal as long as it’s safe to do so. Tomorrow will depend on the weather. 

Conch Key and north are planning normal operations for the rest of the week. 

Currently the county is at a level 2 emergency management level, which is a partial activation. The Emergency Management team is setting up at the 63rd Street offices in Marathon today. 

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