COLUMBUS, Ga. — The looming threat of Hurricane Irma and the mandatory evacuations has forced many people to leave their homes and head through the area.
News 3 spoke with several Florida evacuees who left so much behind, but held on to their faith and each other.
“This is serious. This is coming and it’s going to happen,” Stewart, Florida resident and evacuee Michael McCoy said.
For those leaving their homes, the worst part is not knowing what impact Irma will have.
McCoy said leaving was hard, but the right thing to do.
“You can replace TV’s, couches, houses and jobs if you have to,” McCoy said. “But you can’t replace family. You can’t replace people that’s why we decided it’s best to just stick together and get out of Florida.”
He and couples like Mike and Barbara McMahan left while some friends stayed behind.
“We tried to get them to go with us, we tried to get them to leave with us,” Mike McMahan said.
They have room in their RV, which is where they’re staying. Barbara packed up some valuables including pictures, put them in a bin and left their home of Port Charlotte, Fla. behind.
But leaving is only part of the challenge. The other is finding a way to navigate through traffic and find places to get gas.
“All the way up 75 the gas lines were just jammed and all the pumps had covers on the handle so they were out of fuel,” Robert Cress said.
Robert and Kathy live on Merritt Island, Fla., which is under a manadatory evacuation.
They’ve left Florida because of hurricanes before, but said this feels different from Hurricane Matthew and even Hurricane Andrew.
“We took what we thought was valuable, we put in the back of a car and I looked at the rest of it and said, ‘I may never see it again.’ And that’s okay,” Cress said.
Robert and Kathy were supposed to leave Sunday on a cruise to Puerto Rico, Haiti and Saint Martin.
Now, they leave hand in hand not knowing what kind of home they’ll return to.