Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Marco Island deserted and silent but for dire warnings to evacuate

Marco Island condominiums remain mostly empty on Saturday, where an evacuation order is in place while Hurricane Irma approaches from the south. (Douglas R. Clifford  |  Times)

Marco Island condominiums remain mostly empty on Saturday, where an evacuation order is in place while Hurricane Irma approaches from the south. (Douglas R. Clifford | Times)

MARCO ISLAND — On a typical Saturday morning, Collier Boulevard, one of the main roads out to the beach, is so busy that Bill and Gena Sullivan can't even back out of their driveway.

But ahead of Hurricane Irma, the Island is deserted, silent save for the swaying palms and speakers on police SUVs , warning anyone still there: EVACUATE.

LIVE BLOG: Latest updates on Hurricane Irma.

The Sullivans, married for 40 years, were among the few holdouts. They finished taking in everything from their lanai and prepared to leave Saturday afternoon if the forecast got worse.

"This is the deadest we have ever seen this island," said Bill.

Their home, he said, was about 11 feet above sea level. Their main concern was the storm surge, not the wind.

"If it's anything below 9 feet, we're staying," Bill said.

"We're from Chicago," said Gena, noticeably more nervous. "We're just two city kids who don't know what the hell they're doing."

COMPLETE COVERAGE:Find all our coverage about Hurricane Irma here

A yellow school bus puttered past, headed toward condos further west. Alfredo Hernandez, a county schools driver, waited to pick up anyone who decided to leave at the last minute. When Irma's track shifted west on Friday, he said, more people escaped Marco Island.

"It's been very busy," he said.

Yet a handful of stray residents defied the evacuation order. Rain began to fall at the beach about 11 a.m. It was empty save for dragonflies bobbing along the walkway and birds diving into the waves. A man smoked a cigar on his third-floor balcony, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

Elizabeth Heuermann, a local realtor, said she planned to fly out of Marco Island but couldn't get a plane ticket. So she decided to stay in her fourth-floor condo with her dog, Buddy.

The Island is never so quiet, she said, particularly not on a weekend.

"It's just eerie," Heuermann said. "I have a lot of anxiety, but I'm trying to keep calm."

She walked Buddy past the big condo buildings, crossing empty streets.

"We're going to walk quite a bit," she said.

She wasn't sure how long it would be until they could go outside again.

Marco Island deserted and silent but for dire warnings to evacuate 09/09/17 [Last modified: Saturday, September 9, 2017 11:11am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Bruno Mars' charisma glitters like gold at Tampa's Amalie Arena


    Nothing in this world should be as easy as Bruno Mars makes it look. Not singing, not dancing, and certainly not playfully seducing more than 17,500 starry-eyed Tampa fans with one of pop music’s best bands at your back.

    Bruno Mars performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on Oct. 19, 2017.
  2. Mikhail Sergachev scores twice as Lightning shuts out Blue Jackets (w/ video)

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Mikhail Sergachev said he blacked out for a few seconds after his first NHL goal Thursday night, a rocket slap shot from the point.

    Mikhail Sergachev, front, looks like he’s very in the moment with teammate Dan Girardi after scoring his first NHL goal, though he says he blacked out for a bit. He scores again in the second.
  3. Dodgers rout Cubs 11-1 to win pennant, head to World Series for first time since '88


    CHICAGO — Enrique Hernandez put a Hollywood ending on an LA story three decades in the making.

    The Dodgers celebrate their Game 5 victory Thursday night over the Cubs at Wrigley Field, putting Los Angeles in the World Series for the first time since 1988.
  4. Another suspicious death in Tampa's Seminole Heights


    TAMPA — Police were investigating what they were calling a suspicious death in southeast Seminole Heights Thursday night, near the location of two fatal shootings last week.

    Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan addresses reporters about the latest suspicious death in southeast Seminole Heights Thursday night. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL | Times]
  5. Duke tops preseason coaches' basketball poll; Gators No. 7


    Duke has been tabbed basketball's preseason No. 1 for the second straight season in the coaches' poll, released Thursday.

    Florida point guard Chris Chiozza launches the shot of last season’s NCAA Tournament, a winning 3
against Wisconsin that put the Gators into the Elite Eight. Chiozza returns to lead a UF team that’s getting its share of preseason attention, including a No. 7 ranking in the coaches’ poll.