As Hurricane Irma made its way towards Florida, ten staff members who take care of the Hemingway Home Museum in Key West refused to leave, including the manager, 72-year-old Jacque Sands. The 19th-century building was boarded up in preparation for the storm, but its caretakers decided to stay to care for the 54, mostly six-toed cats living there. Many of those cats are direct descendants of Ernest Hemingway’s original, polydactyl cat.

Mariel Hemingway tries to convince staff to take the cats and leave

The Victorian home, now a museum to the world-renowned author, was built in 1851 and has managed to withstand many tropical storms over the years since it was built.

It reportedly stands on one of the highest points of Key West, at 16 feet above sea level. However, actress Mariel Hemingway, Ernest’s granddaughter, was concerned over the staff members staying there during the storm.

With Hurricane Irma thought to be bringing 185 mph winds and possible 20-foot storm surges, Hemingway didn’t believe it was worth the risk. Most people had already left the area after Gov. Rick Scott ordered an evacuation, but not these trusty folks.

As can be heard in the video, Hemingway said while Sands’ decision to stay was noble, and calling her a “wonderful and admirable person” for choosing to remain, she urged the 72-year-old to leave.

She said ultimately it is just a house, telling her to save the cats, but leave the house. Hemingway said put the cats in the car and drive away.

However, Sands refused to abandon the home, saying the cats would be brought inside before the hurricane hit and that they and the staff members would be protected by the 18-inch thick walls of the home.

The Telegraph quotes Sands as saying her kids had told her to “get the hell out,” but she stressed at the time she has an obligation to look after the building and the 54 cats.

Cats in Ernest Hemingway’s house are fine

Fortunately for Sands, the employees and the six-toed cats in residence, they survived the experience without a scratch, with NBC Nightly News taking to Twitter to make the announcement.

Dave Gonzales, the curator of the house, confirmed on Monday that the cats had survived and that the 10 staff members did just fine during the storm. He said the thick limestone walls had retained the cool of the building’s air-conditioning and that everyone was comfortable, including the cats, during Hurricane Irma's wrath. He also added that they would probably all head into the house with the cats again that night, just to be sure.

As noted by the New York Times, Gonzales told NBC Nightly News that he hopes things will soon go back to normal in Key West so they can continue enjoying their life in paradise.