As Hurricane Irma moves closer to possible landfall in South Florida, many boaters in Monroe County spent the Labor Day holiday getting their boats out of the water to safety.
While it's too early to guarantee a strike, people in the Keys are erring on the side of caution.
"We've been inundated with locals and people who have been here on vacation getting and pulling their boats out," said Mark Thomasson, dock master at Founders Park in Islamorada.
Several boats were seen on lifts in Upper Matacumbe Key as county emergency officials tell locals the time to prepare for the storm is now, and not if evacuations are ordered.
"Its time to move the boat out just in case the storm comes," said boater Erik Linaje. "I'd rather have it in a safe location, so put it on a trailer and go."
If Irma threatens the Keys, shelters will not open in Monroe County if the storm is a Category 3 or stronger, as expected.
Residents will need to head north and seek shelter at the Miami-Dade Fair and Exposition Ground near the FIU campus.
Traffic out of the Keys was already heavy Monday afternoon due to the end of the holiday weekend, but could become much worse if evacuations are ordered.
"We're just watching it. Hopefully, nothing will happen," said Roman Gastesi, a Monroe County administrator. "These storms tend to go north, but we have to prepared. Its going to be close, so it'll probably be a good drill and that's fine because we'll be prepared for the next one."
This BBSNews article originally appeared on News | WPLG.