(AP Photo/Weather Underground)Tourists jumped on the last plane out of town, store owners shuttered their doors and palm trees bent in gusty winds as Tropical Storm Fay began to bear down on the Florida Keys Monday after killing at least eight people in the Carribean. Roughly 25,000 tourists had evacuated, Monroe County Mayor Mario Di Gennaro said, but some bars and restaurants were doing business, even if crowds were considerably thinner. Despite warnings the storm could strengthen, some hurricane hardened residents refused to leave.
Fay, the sixth named storm of the 2008 Atlantic season, left at least five people dead in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In Haiti, a bus overturned while trying to drive across a river surging with rain, creating fears that up to 30 people were dead. At least 41 people escaped, but peacekeepers saw the bodies of two infants who drowned in the the Riviere Glace. Peacekeepers also found the body of a man who drowned in the river but was not on the bus. Fay is expected to near hurricane strength, which starts at windspeeds of 74mph, when it reaches the Keys later Monday. Aside from wind damage, most of the islands sit at sea level and could face some limited flooding from Fay's storm surge. The exact track is not clear but the storm is expected to hit the Keys first and then sweep up the western coast of Florida, forecasters said. It could strengthen into a Category 1 storm after it moves past the Keys.