Staying behind on Florida islands is 'almost like suicide'

Despite authorities begging residents of the Florida Keys to evacuate since Thursday, some have opted to remain.

The low-lying coral cay islands are scattered off Florida's southern coast, with a population of 70,000.

One official warned staying on the islands among storm surge warnings was "almost like suicide".
The tropical archipelago extends for more than 100 miles off the US mainland, north of Cuba.
The islands, which are mostly part of Monroe County, are linked to the Florida peninsula by a scenic highway that runs across into Miami.

In 2005 the islands avoided a direct hit from Hurricane Wilma, but the category three storm caused major ocean storm surges that left low-lying areas inundated with flood water.

Much of the Keys have an elevation of just a few feet above sea level.

Key West, the largest island with a population of about 27,000, is extremely vulnerable to the large storm surges forecast by Hurricane Irma (though it has one of the highest points in the Keys at 18ft (5.5m) above sea level).

The area is frequently ordered to evacuate in Florida's tropical storm seasons.

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Weather Alert Online: Staying behind on Florida islands is 'almost like suicide'
Staying behind on Florida islands is 'almost like suicide'
Weather Alert Online
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