KEY WEST (CBS4) – In anticipation of Tropical Storm Isaac, Monroe County officials decided Thursday to shut down county offices and cancel school on Monday — the day Isaac’s weather is expected to impact the Florida Keys.
“This is not the big one,” explained County Administrator Roman Gastesi. “It’s not a Category 5. But it’s still a hurricane. We still have to prepare and do everything we normally would do.”
Gastesi said the county leaders will decide Friday whether to ask Keys tourists to evacuate beginning on Saturday. He explained that the loss of tourists could cost the Keys several million dollars a day in revenue.
However, he said this weekend is a low occupancy weekend with many children back in school.
“It’s gonna be a good weekend to have an evacuation if we have one — a little rain, clean the streets, clean everything up and we’ll be nice and ready for Labor Day weekend,” Gastesi told CBS 4’s Carey Codd.
Gastesi did stress that Keys residents and tourists need to pay close attention to the storm track and begin making preparations.
County employees spent Thursday shuttering county buildings and cleaning storm drains. But otherwise, life went on as usual in Key West, with street performers entertaining, visitors window shopping and many people enjoying the afternoon sun on a bicycle.
But some tourists — like Johnnie Griffin from Cape Coral — do plan to cut their vacation short.
“We keep thinking about (Hurricane) Charlie,” Griffin said. “It was a Category one and within an hour it ended a four and came right in on us.”
However, the threat of a tropical storm or hurricane might be bad for business but rickshaw driver Boris Bujila sees an only in Key West silver lining.
“It’s gonna be a lot of fun for us locals right?” Bujila said. “It’s no work and I heard they’re gonna have a lot of discounts at the bars so not so bad.”