‘We are not The Walking Dead’: Defiant Miami residents and tourists who refuse to leave as Irma looms say they are not scared and will ride it out by partying through it


It’s supposed to be a ghost town – but there are plenty of mortals to be found in Miami Beach if you look.

And those who have chosen to remain as Hurricane Irma, which is expected to be Category 5 when it touches down in Florida, agree they are not The Walking Dead.

They believe they are safer where they are than if they had evacuated inland or moved north to avoid the 155mph fury of the largest storm ever to form in the open Atlantic Ocean.

And despite seeing pictures of the devastation Irma has wrought in Caribbean islands such as Barbuda, St Martin and Tortola, they have faith in their sturdy homes just yards from the Atlantic coast.

Many who have chosen to stay in Miami Beach despite evacuation warnings as Hurricane Irma looms believe there are safer staying where they are (Pictured, Marie Fonseca, left, and her friend, Flavio Sobe, say they are going to tough out the storm)

Only one restaurant, at the Boulevard Hotel, on famed Ocean Drive, remained open. Manager Ram Luis (pictured) said there were nine staffers on duty but there would normally be 20

Nikki Aliosmanova (left) and her boyfriend, Alex Rizov (right), from the UK plan to enjoy South Beach, which has been made a ghost town, as their very own private beach

‘Where am I going to go?’ asked real estate consultant Marie Fonseca as she headed back to her apartment for cigarettes she had forgotten to take with her on a stroll around town with her friend Flavio Sobe.

‘I had one person I know in hysterics saying: “You have to leave now, come and stay with me!” But she’s in Tampa and that looks like it could get hit worse. Good luck with that one.’

Her friend, Sobe, told DailyMail.com he will ride Irma out with as many people as possible in his apartment along South Beach’s Collins Avenue.

‘I’ve put a note on my Facebook telling people with nowhere else to go to come to my place. They should bring happiness and pets,’ he said.

And partying is the way to go, added Sobe.

‘You know what the first things to run out were when news of this hurricane started? – lube, alcohol and condoms. That’s the Miami way of dealing with it.’

Ironically, Sobe shouldn’t be in South Beach at all this weekend. He is due to start a new job in New York next week and should have already left. But four flights out were canceled meaning his last few nights in Florida will be spent with Irma.

Danielle Sharon also found her plans went awry. She and husband Theodore were due to be on a cruise down the Danube, but they too found their flight to Europe canceled.

‘Once that happened I never even thought of leaving town,’ Sharon, 67, said as she walked her 15-year-old French Poodle Boubou outside her apartment block.

‘I’m not scared. I rode out Hurricane Andrew here and I can ride out Irma too,’ she said.

Lorna Jaquiss (pictured) said she believed her apartment block was strong enough to withstand Hurricane Irma. As a general contractor for restaurants she will be one of the first to be called on to help rebuild Miami Beach if Irma's damage is as bad as many believe it could be

Ramon Onate, 59, who is homeless (pictured), says he is hoping to find shelter in townRamon Onate, 59, who is homeless (pictured), says he is hoping to find shelter in town

Sharon lives on the 11th floor and her apartment faces inland so she believes she will be safe from both storm surge and the worst of the winds.

‘If it gets really bad I’ll go in to the hallways, she said. ‘This is my home and it’s safer than any other place.’

She said she has plenty of supplies – although bottled water isn’t one of them. ‘I’ve got plenty of empty bottles and I’ll fill them with water, but there’s no way I’ll buy bottled water at the price they sell it.’

Others had less chance to get out of town. Homeless Ramon Onate, 59, hopes to find shelter from the storm in town.

‘I’ll be OK,’ Onate said in broken English as he rattled off his social security number and date of birth to DailyMail.com, before realizing we were not law enforcement.

‘I wouldn’t want to leave anyway. This is where I live.’

By early Friday afternoon Miami Beach was pretty well closed as officials placed a mandatory evacuation order on the barrier island town that is home to 92,000 residents and normally teems with tens of thousands more visitors.



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