By Oralia Ortega

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KEY WEST (CBSMiami) – Some Keys residents made a sobering realization of the serious danger they were in as Hurricane Irma set its sights on their beloved home.

“We had a few storms running right behind it and there was a big council meeting and they suggested police and everybody get out,” said a man named Tony who evacuated Key West.

He says although he’s safe they’re worried about those who chose to ride out the storm.

“I’m nervous because a lot of the people I wanted to help rescue chose to stay behind and they’ve opened Key West High School for those people. The Concha is one of the safer buildings and it’s filled to capacity. But we’re not certain that the Key West High School is even going to save them. So we’re worried about the people we love who didn’t get out,” said Tony’s friend, who evacuated with him.

“When you’re raised down there that’s your life and if you’ve been there 60 plus years, you’re a Conch. You don’t leave. You just batten down the hatches and ride it out,” said Ebony, who evacuated Key West.

Then there’s this heartbreaking tweet: “My girlfriend’s grandparents are 80 and 84 years old. They are going down with their house in Key West. Ate off their wedding plates last night.”

One man says he chose to leave to keep his 11-year-old daughter safe.

“I had a place where I could have stayed but you just never know. We’ve never been through that. I was at the house during Wilma. We had sox inches of water in the house,” he said. “It was scary, you know. And that was what? A category 3 with eight foot storm surge. And this is going to be more storm surge, a lot more wind.”

He said after spending tons of money to be able to stay at his home, he decided he had to leave.

“It cost me tens of thousands of dollars to prep for the last four to five days,” he said. “I’m sure FEMA spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the last ten years in storms. You look at the dollars and cents but at the same time you look at your daughters, your dogs, your family, your friends, you know the materialistic stuff, it can all be replaced.”

Monroe County Manager Roman Gastsi says he’s glad to see people heeding the warning.

“If all the pros are telling you, ‘you ought to go’, you’re looking at the images of the islands where it’s already gone, we have similar topography. We have similar structures and if it comes over we’re going to have similar destruction so why deal with it?” said Gastesi.

He said the sheriff is evacuating about 460 prisoners from the Stock Island Detention Center to either north Broward or Palm Beach County.

“He’s concerned about the prisoners and the guards that take care of the place. Even though the building is a fairly new building, a very strong building, why deal with it,” said Gastesi.


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