Will the State use the Update of the Hurricane Evacuation Model to allow more development for our Keys that are already overcapacity?

Tell the State “ENOUGH” at these Critical Meetings JUNE 13-14 and save our quality of life.

Update: June 14 Video of Workshop in Key Largo:

Update: June 14 Video of Dottie Moses testimony and questions to the DEO:

Update: Video of the June 13 Key West Workshop:

Published on June 9, 2023 by Ann Olsen, Joyce Newman, Andrea Strawn, Robert Gold and Chris Hamilton

Very quietly, without much notice, without Zoom links for those of us away from the Keys next week, the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) is holding public meetings to “provide information regarding hurricane evacuation modeling in the Florida Keys and to seek public input”.  Agendas, information, dates and times, and details about submitting comments can be found at: Link to DEO Website.

What’s evacuation got to do with overdevelopment?

  • By State mandate, the Florida Keys must evacuate all of its residents 24 hours ahead of the arrival of tropical storm winds (even sooner than hurricane landfall).
  • This mandate has been the limiting factor for residential development in the Keys, but it represents the totality of all the other less quantifiable, but critically important environmental, quality of life, and capacity issues.
    • We’ve already reached the capacity to supply drinking water throughout the Keys, as shown by the recent stoppages and boil water notices, as well as the recent letter from FKAA admitting it cannot pump water at full capacity through its deteriorating pipeline in dire need of replacement at a cost of $10M per mile. Read more at: Water System Woes.
    • Our nearshore waters remain impaired for pollutants and our fish are full of pharmaceuticals (BTT Study) – all this in a National Marine SANCTUARY and with commercial and sport fishing the economic lifeblood of Florida.
    • Traffic continues to worsen every year with ongoing development – is this why you moved to the Florida Keys?

The 2012 evacuation model didn’t include all residents – allowing greater development.  Who will be included in the new model?

  • Our current evacuation model ASSUMES that:
    • All visitors and tourists will evacuate at 48 hours (ahead of residents) and are NOT counted in the modeling. Yet, no one actually forces them to leave (yes, hotels can send guests away, but what about all the people in vacation rentals, now that they’ve become so prolific?).
    • Mobile home residents, recreational vehicles, liveaboards and military personnel are also supposed to leave at 48 hours in advance.
  • The National Weather Service says, while they’re pretty good at predicting the “cone” (where the storm will go), they cannot predict Rapid Intensification (how quickly a storm goes from Tropical Storm to Category 3-4-or 5).
  • Rapid Intensification has greatly increased over the past decade or two with warming oceans.
  • That’s a big assumption and we know the old saying:
    • What if we don’t have 48+ hours’ notice to evacuate because of Rapid Intensification?
    • What if the visitors don’t leave or don’t do it right away?
    • What if there’s a simple wobble in the path, like Hurricane Ian last Fall that was supposed to hit Tampa, veered slightly and hit Fort Meyers? A lot of people died and they had a variety of roads to safety.  We have ONE road to safety.

Key Issues to ASK or WRITE ABOUT:

  • This is a public safety issue – no resident should be trapped by rapidly rising hurricane storm surge.
  • The last Evacuation Model did not include Navy personnel or their families (another 5200+ residents); mobile home residents; special needs individuals and their families, or liveaboards.  These are all permanent residents and should be included.
  • The 24-hour modeling does not include visitors and tourists – yet many remain and clog the roads during peak evacuation times.
  • The last model assumed homeowners not in residence on April 1st equals an empty house. This ignores the steep increase in vacation rentals – these properties are now full of visitors with no one monitoring or enforcing evacuation.
  • How can a system based upon a tiered evacuation, beginning at 48 hours (for visitors, mobile home owners, liveaboards, the Navy, 1300 new building units) clear all residents when there’s no guarantee we’ll have 48 hours’ notice due to Rapid Intensification?
  • We’re at capacity TODAY and the model should show that.

ACTION ALERT – Help make Keys’ voices heard!
YOU can make a difference!  Attend a regional meeting or submit a comment and make your voice heard!

  • Submit comments to the DEO:
    • Via email to FLKeysEvac@DEO.MyFlorida.com or by mail to:Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
      Division of Community Development
      Attention: BCPG
      The Caldwell Building
      107 East Madison Street, MSC-400
      Tallahassee, FL 32399
  • Or join us at one of the upcoming DEO Workshops:
      June 13, 2023, 10:00 a.m. – 1 p.m.
      Harvey Government Center, 1200 Truman Avenue, 2nd Floor, Key West, FL 33040
      June 13, 2023, 4:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
      Marathon Government Center- BOCC, 2783 Overseas Hwy., 2nd Floor, Marathon, FL 33050
      June 14, 2023, 10:00 a.m. – 1 p.m.
      Murray Nelson Government Center, 102050 Overseas Hwy., Key Largo, FL 33037

Last Stand will issue updates, attend these meetings, and report back to the public in our vigil to protect the Keys.

  • Last Stand keeps YOU informed about important issues in our community.
  • Last Stand is YOUR partner in maintaining our quality of life and public safety and protecting our environment.
  • Last Stand represents YOUR interests with policy-makers and government agencies.