Florida Keys ordered to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irma

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A mandatory evacuation order has been issued for visitors to the Florida Keys ahead of potential impacts from Hurricane Irma, county officials say. Residents on the islands will be evacuated later this week.

The Monroe County Emergency Management Agency said the mandatory evacuation for tourists would begin at sunrise on Wednesday. Authorities are also preparing to issue a mandatory evacuation order for residents, but the exact timing has yet to be determined.

“If ever there was a storm to take seriously in the Keys, this is it,” said Martin Senterfitt, the director of the Monroe County Emergency Management Agency, said in an emailed statement. “The sooner people leave, the better.”

Visitors with near-term plans to travel to the Florida Keys must postpone them until the storm passes and an infrastructure assessment can be completed, the agency said. Government offices, county parks, and schools will be closed from Wednesday.

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