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Staff at Ernest Hemingway's home in Florida have vowed to ride out Hurricane Irma, in the hope of safeguarding the property and its famous six-toed cats.  The 19th Century Hemingway Home Museum in Key West has been boarded up and employees are hunkering down, with the storm heading straight for them.But 10 staff members including 72-year-old manager Jacqui Sands are staying behind to look after home and its dozens of polydactyly (CORR) felines, which are all descendants of the late author's own cats.


John Baker from St. Mary's Star of the Sea Basilica blesses the Hemingway Home Museum on Friday. The staff has boarded up the windows, taken its 52 cats indoors and plans to ride out the storm in the home. Credit: HEMINGWAY HOME MUSEUM VIA FACEBOOK)The sprawling Queen Anne-style Victorian house, built in 1851, has withstood many tropical storms through the past two centuries. It sits about 16 feet above sea level, one of the highest points on this island at the end of the Florida Keys.But Hurricane Irma, which is due to make landfall later today, could bring 20-foot storm surges and 185-mile-per-hour winds to Florida.Ernest HemingwayFlorida's Key West has largely emptied after authorities ordered an evacuation of nearly six million resident - a quarter of the state's population - deemed to be at risk.Mariel Hemingway, his granddaughter, called Mrs Sands' decision was noble, but it was not worth risking their lives for: "I think that you're a wonderful and admirable person for trying to stay there and save the cats, and save the house, and all that stuff. But ultimately, it’s just a house. Save the cats. Get all the cats in the car and take off."Actress Mariel Hemingway Credit: Getty Mrs Sands said: "My kids told me to get the hell out. But I have an obligation to take care of the building and the cats.""Irma remains an extremely dangerous hurricane!" tweeted the US National Weather Service early Saturday. "Outer bands are starting to impact the Keys! Life-threatening Surge & Wind will occur!""It's not too late to get off the Keys!!!" the agency said. "You still have time, this morning, to get out! Please, the Keys are not safe."According to Florida's Division of Emergency Management some 5.6 million residents have been ordered to evacuate.