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Tropical Storm Fay News

August 17, 2008
CONTACT: Becky Herrin, (305) 797-0155, Andy Newman, (305) 542-6014

Mandatory Keys Visitor Evacuation Begins at 8 a.m. Sunday for Fay

--Hurricane Watch Up for Keys--

TALLAHASSEE - Florida Keys emergency management officials will initiate a Keys-wide visitor evacuation beginning at 8 a.m. Sunday, as Tropical Storm Fay churns off the southern coast of Cuba.

The storm’s track, as forecast by the National Hurricane Center early Sunday, has it beginning to affect the Florida Keys with tropical storm-force winds (39 to 74 mph) late Monday morning through early Tuesday, but a possibility that Fay could develop into a minimal, Category 1 hurricane (winds of at least 74 mph) motivated officials to execute the visitor evacuation.

At 5 a.m. Sunday, the National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane watch for the Keys and southwest Florida, because of the possibility of hurricane conditions within the next 36 hours. The center also issued a tropical storm watch for southeast Florida within the next 36 hours.

"We’re asking visitors to leave the Keys to ensure their safety,” said Monroe County Mayor Mario Di Gennaro who also chairs the Keys tourist development council. “We hate to inconvenience those visitors that had plans to be in the Keys the next few days, but their wellbeing is our top priority. We certainly hope they return in the near future.”

Visitors with plans to travel to the Keys during the next few days need to postpone their trips until the storm has passed the island chain and the infrastructure (electricity, roads, etc.) is confirmed to be functional. Consumers and the travel trade can visit the Keys Web site at fla-keys.com for updates.

While visitors should not delay their departures, there is no reason to panic, officials said. A calm, orderly exodus will ensure a safe departure and there is plenty of time to safely leave the Keys. Law enforcement officials anticipate heavy traffic on the Overseas Highway, especially in the Upper Keys Sunday afternoon. Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies will patrol the highway, enforcing speed limits and other traffic laws to ensure road safety.

A multi-lingual Keys visitors assistance line (1-800-771-KEYS) is available, especially for foreign visitors who require translation assistance to understand the need to evacuate.

# # #

Additional Resources:
Monroe County Emergency Information: (800) 955-5504 Keys Tourism Help Line: (800) 771-KEYS Monroe County Situation Report: www.monroecounty-fl.gov National Hurricane Center Web site: www.nhc.noaa.gov Monroe County Sheriff’s Office: www.keysso.net Keys Tourism Council: www.fla-keys.com

Last updated: August 29, 2008

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