Mainers share stories of evacuation during Hurricane Irma

People from Maine head north to escape Hurricane Irma.

CUMBERLAND, Maine (NECN) As Hurricane Irma heads toward Southern Florida, some evacuees say Hurricane Harvey was a wake-up call to take this storm seriously.

Two evacuees from Maine say it was difficult to travel out of Florida, but they didn’t want to take the risk to stay.

“Because of what happened in Houston, everyone doesn’t want to sit around anymore,” said Jenny Lunsted. She is from Biddeford, Maine, and recently moved into a new house in Key West, Florida.

Lunsted made an early decision to evacuate because she is traveling with two young children, and didn’t want to get stuck in the gridlock. She said the one road in and out of Key West is extremely congested. Once she made it to Jacksonville, she learned that area may have to evacuate too. Now she is heading to Georgia.

“I just told my kids we’re going on a little vacation,” she said.

University of Miami student Connor Whittum is back home in Cumberland, Maine this week. His school issued a campus-wide, mandatory evacuation for the first time.

“I’ve never witnessed sheer panic like that,” he said.

It took three flights, and thirty-six sleepless hours to travel back to Maine yesterday, but he feels fortunate. Some of his classmates couldn’t evacuate and will be staying in a Red Cross shelter when Irma hits the coast.

“I think people are a little bit paranoid because of Harvey, but if you look at the same of this storm, you don’t want to mess with it,” said Whittum. 

Copyright 2017 NECN


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