Floridians evacuate, fearing Irma's wrath

PHOTO: file

As Hurricane Irma continues to approach the united states, Floridians are boarding up their homes and evacuating.

"We decided to evacuate because of how strong that they were saying it was going be. They also didn't know directly where it was going," says St. Petersburg, Florida resident, Autumn Homer.

Homer and her friends evacuated from Florida to just south of Chattanooga, in fear of Irma's wrath.

"We were worried about things breaking our windows. We tried taking anything that could be blown by the wind and we tried bringing that inside. We also emptied out our refrigerators, and made sure everything was clean,filled our bathtubs so that way when we get back," Homer says.

After securing their homes, they boarded up and began traveling north to Tennessee.

"It took us 19 hours to get here when it usually takes about 10 or 11...most of the time we were going about eight miles-per-hour in bumper to bumper traffic," says Daytona Beach, Florida area resident, Margarita Parris.

Bob and Christine Butch have also left their home near Ft. Myers, Florida, trying to outrun Irma. They also say highways were backed up with traffic.

"We were lucky because it was moving...that was our concern," says Christine Adams-Butch.

Seeing Harvey's destruction in Texas was a large factor is their decision to evacuate.

"You see a lot of people that didn't understand, didn't really think it would happen, which would be the way I think I would feel normally, and then you see what happened to them. It was an impetus to get out and get going," says Adams-Butch.

Local hotels are preparing for evacuees.

"We're getting a lot of calls to see if we have rooms available, they're like you said, being pushed out so they're getting closer and closer to our area, and we are expecting a lot more this weekend," says Courtyard-Marriott of Bristol, Virginia's assistant manager, Shelley Plaster.

Hurricane deals are being made available by some hotels.

"We are offing hurricane rate which is lower than our regular rate. We've also waved all of our pet restrictions for hurricane people," Plaster says.

While they may be out of harm's way for now, these Floridians worry about what they will return to in Irma's aftermath.

"I'm definitely expecting not to have power, definitely a lot of debris everywhere, maybe some broken windows. I'm on the first floor but I'm hoping there won't be any water," Parris says.

In addition to hurricane rates at local hotels, Bristol Motor Speedway has also opened it's campground free to hurricane evacuees.

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