Concern is growing for residents in the most vulnerable areas of Florida who have not yet evacuated, as Hurricane Irma edges closer to making landfall.
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”.
But some Florida Keys locals, known as “conches”, have developed a tough attitude to riding storms out.
News on Friday that the county’s first responders and emergency staff could be evacuated to the mainland prompted some to change their mind.
Those opting to stay despite the mandatory evacuation order included the curator and 10 members of staff at Ernest Hemingway’s famous home in Key West.
The museum is now famous for homing 54 cats, which the curator said would be too difficult to evacuate safely on the gridlocked roads.
With some still opting to remain despite the warnings, Monroe County was forced to announce the opening of four shelters of last resort in the area.
But officials stressed services and supplies would not be provided at the shelters.
”Once a dangerous storm starts, don’t dial 911 during it because nobody is going to answer,” Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi said.
With Irma hours away it is unclear how many have opted to stay on the islands.
The hurricane is on course to reach the islands on Sunday morning.