Friday was a perfect day for pictures at the beach in South Florida, but those who were catching their end of summer rays were sorely out of place.
On what would normally be a popular day at the beach, many were heeding the calls of Florida Governor Rick Scott as he gave his final plea for all residents and visitors to leave in the lower half of the state.
The Governor warned people in the area that this storm could mean life or death. The next message, as we heard from one Texas mayor before Hurricane Harvey made landfall, may very well be directions to ‘write name on arm to identify your body’.
As The National Hurricane Service put it, “this is as real as it gets.”
If warnings from officials weren’t enough, Irma spent the last two days tearing through the Caribbean where more than 20 people were killed, and islands flattened.
But even still, there will undoubtedly be those who choose to stay. With reasons ranging from a lack of funds to ‘I’m not in the mandatory evacuation zone’ or a foolish sense of optimism, many have chosen to ignore the warnings from officials and opted to weather the storm.
Those who decide to stay will likely stay safe during the storm — after 1992’s Hurricane Andrew many homes in the region were built to sustain hurricane force winds. The real dangers will come in the days after power outages, inoperable emergency services, and continued flooding claimed the majority of lives during Katrina and Harvey.
And while it may be hard to pack up the car on a beautiful day in the sunshine state, the officials continue to encourage residents not to be lured by the calm before the storm and leave.
Despite protests from neighbors and family, Biscayne Bay resident Alberto Valdes told the New York Times he wasn’t leaving.
“How can you abandon your stuff?” said Valdes. “You work so hard to have it, and then walk away? It’s not an easy decision.”