So hurricane season started on June first, but we are now getting into the busiest part of the season. Thus far we have been lucky, with little storm activity and recently dodging Irene. After our past experiences with Georges, Wilma, Katrina, etc, we sincerely feel for the Northeast and the havoc that Irene created there. Chances are the season will remain slow and no evacuations will be called. But in case a storm does come our way and the Keys are in the “cone” there are a few things to keep in mind for those vacationing here.
Know the cancellation policies for your activities and accommodations. Most tour companies and properties have very liberal policies when it comes to storms, but some do not. Recently I came across a few rental properties with a 60 day cancellation policy that required payment in full with no refunds for cancellations due to mandatory hurricane evacuations. I am not sure how they get away with this or who would actually book a property with these types of policies, but they do. If you do happen to book one of these properties consider travel insurance to cover your butt in case of a storm.
If there is a mandatory evacuation, take it seriously, but do not panic. Monroe County is a tourist destination; most of our businesses are based on tourism so officials do not want tourists to leave unless absolutely necessary. Yet, enough time will be provided for you to make other arrangements if you do need to evacuate.
If you are visiting the Keys and do not have a car, rental cars and flights will be available to get you off of the island. There are also shuttle services available to take you to the mainland. And if all else fails, there is Greyhound Bus Line.
If you do decide to stay even after a mandatory evacuation is called you will most likely have a difficult if not impossible time finding a place to stay as well as a limited list of things to do as most businesses close to prepare for the hurricane themselves. But if you are adventurous that will probably not bother you. But there will be many other things to think about if you do stay so that you can be prepared. We will get to that in a future post.