Get out. Do not stay.
That's Marco Island Fire-Rescue Chief Mike Murphy's advice for Marco Island residents should Collier County issue a mandatory evacuation for Hurricane Irma.
"This hurricane we're dealing with is Hurricane Andrew on steroids," Murphy said during Tuesday night's Marco Island City Council meeting. "If there is a place for you to go off island, out of the flood zone area, you need to do so now."
Interim City Manager Gil Polanco briefed the council on the city's plans for Irma, which turned into a Category 5 storm Tuesday morning.
"This morning we put in place our Comprehensive Emergency Management Program (CEMP) all while coordinating efforts with the county in order to staff the Emergency Operations Center," he said. "We urge our residents to develop a plan for their own families as the city prepares for this hurricane."
Most homes and businesses on the island are only elevated 9 to 11 feet above sea level, which means they're extremely susceptible to flooding from storm surges, Polanco said; in fact, the city usually issues a mandatory evacuation for Category 1 storms.
"A Category 1 hurricane can produce storm surge at a high tide that would inundate large portions of the city, causing major flooding in both residential and commercial areas," he said. "As you know, we're expecting a Category 5."
Already seeing broken limbs and bare palm trees from the Naples Daily News newsroom and the eye is still 1-2 hours away.
Update from Gov. Rick Scott on #HurricaneIrma as storm approaches Marco Island. (Sept. 10)
View from Vanderbilt Beach as Hurricane Irma makes its way towards the Florida peninsula Sunday, September 10, 2017 in Naples. Luke Franke/Naples Daily News
A neighborhood off Bonita Beach Road can be seen as the Florida peninsula prepares for the strongest parts of Hurricane Irma Sunday, September 10, 2017 in Bonita Springs. Luke Franke/Naples Daily News
All stations in Collier county shut down Sunday morning. Katie Klann/Naples Daily News
In Immokalee, Florida 30 mph winds were reported.
More than a dozen humvees and 100 members of the National Guard make their way to the Walmart parking lot on Collier Blvd on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017.
Raw drone video shows evacuees arriving at Germain Arena in Fort Myers, Fla., ahead of hurricane Irma's arrival. Michael Zamora/USA TODAY NETWORK
Thousands of evacuees crowd around Germain Arena in Fort Myers, Fla., as they wait to get into the shelter ahead of hurricane Irma's landfall. Michael Zamora/USA TODAY NETWORK
Elderly resident living in retirement facility on Hope Circle in Immokalee, Florida evacuated by local fire and rescue.
Thousands of people line up Saturday to enter a hurricane shelter at Germain Arena in Estero, Florida. The line is more than a mile long. Residents throughout Florida are seeking last minute shelter in advance of Hurricane Irma.
Reporter Ashley Collins is live at Pinecrest Elementary School In Immokalee, Florida, where people are waiting in line for shelter from Hurricane Irma.
Watch a recording of the Facebook Live at Germain Arena shelter in Estero on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017.
Gov. Rick Scott discusses Hurricane Irma. (Sept. 8)
Collier emergency officials speak about the latest updates on Hurricane Irma Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. Greg Stanley/Naples Daily News
A boatyard operator, restaurant bartender, couple out for a morning jog and visitors from Chicago and Poland talk the final days before Hurricane Irma strikes Florida. Seth Soffian / news-press.com
Visual journalist Luke Franke shares video from outside the hurricane shelter Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, at Lely High School. Luke Franke/Naples Daily News
Free sand and wood from pallets is available outside Lowe's on Gladiolus and U.S. 41 in south Fort Myers. You must bring bags and shovels.
As of 5 p.m. Friday, Irma remains a powerful Category 4 hurricane heading for Florida. Tim Aten
Hundreds of family members checked into the emergency shelter Friday morning at Oak Hammock Middle School in Fort Myers a few days ahead of Hurricane Irma. After seeing the storm shift west, many of the families search for safety. Andrea Melendez/news-press.com
Lely High School, designated as a hurricane shelter, is currently filling up Friday afternoon in East Naples. Lines are out the doors and down the street.
People line up Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, at one of Collier's shelters at Lely High School. Patrick Riley/Naples Daily News
Watch updates of Hurricane Irma as of Friday morning on Sept. 7, 2017.
Marco Island issued mandatory evacuations, but many residents have already left the island, said Dave Baer, assistant police chief. Joey Cranney/ Naples Daily News
To ensure drivers are able to fuel up as they evacuate ahead of Hurricane Irma, patrol cars are providing escorts to gas trucks to make sure supplies can safely get to stations. USA TODAY
Florida residents are fleeing Hurricane Irma. Video taken from an airplane of I-75 at Florida Turnpike intersection on Thursday 9/7/2017 Andrew West/news-press.com
We've got you covered. Our news operation is working around the clock keeping you informed before, during and after Irma. Behind the Headlines Staff
A technique on charging your cell phone with everyday items. Kinfay Moroti/news-press.com
A thunderstorm over Southwest Florida slows traffic on I-75 as evacuees head north to escape Hurricane Irma on Thursday, Sept 7, 2017. Jigsha Desai/Naples Daily News
Amy Oshier shares a report from a RaceTrac gas station located at Colonial and Winkler Blvd in Fort Myers where she reports there is gas available at every pump as of 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Amy Oshier/Naples Daily News
All day, a line has formed at Grill and Fill on J & C Boulevard in Naples for propane gas. The store's manager said they have plenty of gas available, more than 50,000 gallons.
Bonita Springs' mayor, fire chief, and the Lee County Sheriff's Office warn residents of approaching Hurricane Irma during a news conference on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Thaddeus Mast/Naples Daily News
Florida Governor Rick Scott spoke about Hurricane Irma and job growth while visiting Pyure, an independent stevia sweetener company, Tuesday, September 5, 2017 in Naples. Luke Franke/Naples Daily News
Lee County residents are stocking up on supplies as Hurricane Irma approaches Florida. Pamela McCabe, firstname.lastname@example.org
Collier County Commission declares a state of emergency and has given the manager power to order an evacuation as needed.
Lowe's off Airport-Pulling received more wood for customers. People have been waiting since 5 a.m. today.
Sam's Club on Immokalee Road has gas, but the line is very long.
Crews work to install aluminum siding at Naples City Hall ahead of Hurricane Irma.
Water shipment at Walmart on Immokalee Road and U.S. 41 gone in about 10 minutes.
Customers were informed the truck they were waiting for was not coming with water after some had waited more than two hours in line at the Publix on Six Mile and Colonia Blvd. in Fort Myers. Andrea Melendez/news-press.com
Fort Myers officials ran out of sand bags less than an hour after providing two free self-service locations. Cody Dulaney/news-press.com
Cars wait in line at the gas station in Costco in North Naples in advance of Hurricane Irma on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. Ashley Collins/Naples Daily News
Shoppers line up with supplies at Sam's Club in North Naples on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, in advance of Hurricane Irma.
The scene at Lowe's Home Improvement store in Naples on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017 in advance of category 5 storm Hurricane Irma. This was the last of the plywood at the store until a new shipment arrives.
Customers gather supplies from Home Depot in North Naples on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, as preparations begin for Hurricane Irma, which is currently a Category 5 storm. Ashley Collins/Naples Daily News
Hurricane Irma, upgraded to a powerful Category 4 storm, barrels towards the Caribbean and the southern United States with residents in its path preparing for the worst. Video provided by Reuters Newslook
Shelters for Hurricane Irma opened in Lee County and residents flocked to take advantage of the facilities made available Bill Smith/The News-Press
Downtown Fort Myers is preparing for Hurricane Irma. Thyrie Bland/The News-Press
Hurricane Irma: Fort Myers Beach under mandatory evacuation Andrew West/news-press.com
Two residents, mobile home dwellers, discuss their differing views on evacuating during a hurricane. Jose Luis Martinez is leaving. Milagros Nieves is staying. Melanie Payne/news-press.com
- Video: View from the Naples Daily News building
- Watch it: Gov. Rick Scott on Hurricane Irma as storm approaches Marco Island.
- Hurricane Irma: View from Vanderbilt Beach
- Hurricane Irma: Neighborhood off Bonita Beach Road
- Video: Hurricane Irma update from Station 72
- Hurricane Irma video: View from Immokalee, Florida on Sept 10
- Hurricane Irma video: National Guard arrives in Collier County
- Drone video: Evacuees arrive at Florida shelter
- Evacuees seek shelter at Germain Arena
- Hurricane Irma video: Resident living in retirement facility evacuated
- Hurricane Irma: A mile of patience at evacuation center
- Hurricane Irma video: People wait in line at shelter in Immokalee, Florida
- Hurricane Irma video: Long wait at Germain Arena shelter in Estero
- Watch it: Gov. Rick Scott discusses Hurricane Irma. (Sept. 8)
- Mandatory evacuations announced for Collier
- Fort Myers Beach prepared, not panicked for Hurricane Irma
- Video: Scene from Lely HS hurricane shelter
- Hurricane Irma: Free sand and wood at south Fort Myers store
- Video: Hurricane Irma update for Friday night
- Fort Myers families flock to shelters ahead of Hurricane Irma
- Video: Scene at Lely High School
- Video: Line for hurricane shelter in Collier
- Video: Sept. 8 updates during Hurricane Irma
- Video: Marco Island issues mandatory evacuation
- Florida Highway Patrol escorts fuel trucks across state
- Hurricane Irma: Largest evacuation in history taking place
- Video: Hurricane coverage plans
- Hurricane Irma: How to charge cell phone in an emergency
- Hurricane Irma: Storm before the big storm
- Hurricane Irma: Thursday afternoon update from a RaceTrac in Fort Myers
- Hurricane Irma: Line at Grill and Fill in Naples
- Hurricane Irma: Bonita Springs news conference on Thursday, Sept 7
- Governor Rick Scott speaks on Hurricane Irma
- Irma: Supplies dwindle as shoppers stock up
- Video: Collier County Commission declares a state of emergency
- Video: Lowe's off Airport-Pulling receives more wood
- Video: Long line at Sam's Club
- Video: Crews install aluminum siding at Naples City Hall
- Video: Water shipment gone in about 10 minutes
- Hurricane Irma: No water at Publix frustrates customers
- Fort Myers has sand but bring your own bags
- Hurricane Irma: Lines at Costco gas station in Naples
- Hurricane Irma: The scene at Sam's Club in North Naples
- Hurricane Irma: The scene at Lowes in Naples
- Preparing for Hurricane Irma: Scene at Home Depot
- Preparations for Hurricane Irma are underway
- Hurricane Irma shelters open and get busy
- Hurricane Irma: Downtown Fort Myers readies
- Hurricane Irma: Fort Myers Beach under mandatory evacuation
- Hurricane Irma - Tropical Trailer Park
The city currently has $4.8 million in reserves to assist with operations during the hurricane and repairs afterwards. It also has plans to issue bonds should the storm be "catastrophic," Polanco said.
The city enacted a voluntary evacuation early Tuesday evening, and city officials say they'll follow the county's lead with regard to issuing a mandatory evacuation.
Despite its name, a mandatory evacuation does not mean residents will be forced out of their homes, Murphy said; however, he strongly encourages all residents to heed the evacuation orders.
"We will not come to residents; we will not force them out of their houses," he said. "We can only tell you it's in your best interests to leave the island and enact your plan."
If residents decide to stay, they should not plan on receiving assistance from emergency personnel, Murphy said.
"You're on your own for 72 hours, at least. Do not anticipate us being there for you," he said. "The problem with Marco Island is in a Cat 5 storm, you are going to drain the resources of the Fire Department and Police Department in attempting to rescue you, so we really ask the residents to leave.You are placing you and your family and us in harm's way."
Should the storm remain a Category 5 with Southwest Florida at the center of its path, Fire-Rescue personnel might not stay on the island.
"In a Cat 5 storm, we may even leave the island," he said. "You cannot realize what a catastrophic destruction will take place with a Cat 5 storm. Andrew brought society back to anarchy, and it was weeks before power was restored."
Frequently Asked Questions provided by the City of Marco Island
Will the bridge be closed?
There are no plans to close the bridge or shut down essential services like utilities; however, physical damage to the infrastructure due to the storm could result in that occurring.
Do we have to evacuate? Should we evacuate?
No evacuation order has been issued, but it is recommended.
Should I turn off my house alarm?
Should I put up my shutters?
That is up to the homeowner to decide. They know what is best for themselves and their home.
Will trash be collected on Thursday/Friday?
Trash, recycling, yard waste or bulky item collection has not yet been canceled. Collection containers should be stored inside to prevent them from being affected by winds from the storm. For information on trash/recycling collection, call 239-252-2380.
How do I contact LCEC?
Call 800-599-2356 to report issues with power. Residents are reminded that when traveling, if traffic lights are dark, drivers should treat intersections as four-way stops.
Will Collier Area Transit buses continue service?
Collier Area Transit may cease bus service due to weather conditions. At this time there have been no indications of timeline.