Tourists Slow to Evacuate the Keys


TAMPA (2006-08-28) On a typical weekday, the Keys Shuttle service transports up to 100 passengers daily from the airports in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale to resorts throughout the Keys.

And so far, Office Manager Jim Praessel says there has been no increase in reservations from folks leaving the islands and that tourists appear to be ignoring the governor's order to evacuate.

PRAESSEL: Because the motels can't forcibly make them to leave and they won't refund their money so most of them just stay. If it was bigger or closer, I mean it's three or four days ahead. Plenty of time to get out of here tomorrow if the storm looks like it's going to hit.

However, he does report some cancellations of visitors coming to the Keys.

Praessel is based in Marathon and has lived in the Keys for 17 years. He offered his own assessment of Ernesto.

PRAESSEL: I'm not worried about it a bit. If it does hit, it's going to be a weak one and we're well prepared for that at least I know I am. And, the likelihood the way it looks, it's not going to hit which happens 90% of the time when they evacuate early.

He says the Keys were evacuated four times last hurricane season, but for much stronger storms.

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