Re-Entering Monroe County After Mandatory Evacuation
Evacuation of Monroe County is not a simple call. It is important to remember that evacuation is ordered only when officials believe that lives are in danger.
The obvious threat from a hurricane is storm surge, winds, and wind-borne debris. Not many Keys residents are aware that these aspects of a storm can - and probably will, even in a moderate storm - deprive at least part of the county of electricity, passable roads, reliable emergency services, operating medical facilities, and access to groceries, prescriptions, and other supplies, all while presenting safety issues that the average citizen is not prepared to handle.
For example, if telephone and power lines are down, cell phones may not work, live wires may be electrifying thousands of feet of soaked yards and roads, and parts of homes, trailers, overturned vehicles, and trees may block every road in your neighborhood. Recent studies reveal that a larger number of people suffer severe and fatal injuries after, as opposed to during an event, from live wires, injuries received while clearing debris, and other avoidable complications.
Protocol for Re-Entry
Monroe County Emergency Management Department has an established a protocol for re-entry. If followed, this system will allow residents to return to their homes with as little delay as possible and with a considerable reduction of risk.
Immediately following a storm, essential personnel will be allowed to return to Monroe County. These responders will not be returning to their homes, but will tackle all hazards and physical obstacles that would prevent the safe return of residents and property owners to the Keys.
What You Can Do
When an evacuation is ordered, already have a destination planned. Plan to stay at your evacuation destination until you learn that it is safe to come back. Monroe County will open in stages after a major storm; based on the damaged or obstructed areas.
Re-Entry Vehicle Windshield Stickers
Get your re-entry vehicle windshield stickers now. One for each vehicle registered in your name can be obtained from the sheriff’s substation nearest your home. You will need a proof of residency to obtain the sticker (driver’s license, utility bill, deed, etc.)
Traffic will not be allowed direct access to the 18-mile stretch or to Card Sound Road, but will be diverted to the staging area at the Homestead Race Track parking lot. There, vehicles will be segregated according to their re-entry stickers in order to facilitate the most orderly traffic flow possible. As each area is determined to be safe for residents’ return, vehicles bearing re-entry stickers corresponding with the safety zones will be allowed to re-enter the county.
It is very important to remember that there will be no food or other services available at the staging area; hotels will be booked and many stores will have trouble keeping up with the sudden increase in demand by waiting returnees. This is another reason to remain at your evacuation destination until you are certain it is safe to proceed home.
Major networks, radio stations, and the Weather Channel will broadcast scrolling announcements that will indicate whether or not residents may return to Monroe County. However, the Emergency Information Hot Line at the Monroe County EOC at 800-955-5504 and the Florida State Emergency Information Hot Line at 800-342-3557 will also provide reliable updates about re-entry.