OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WATE)–What is usually a nine hour drive turned into 13 hours Thursday as one family fled Clearwater and Palm Harbor, Florida ahead of Hurricane Irma.
“This storm scared me to be honest,” said Debra Meyer. “We’ve had lots of storms come near us but this one is a monster storm.”
Debra Meyer, her son, his wife and their three-month-old baby boy, braved the traffic to get to Oak Ridge to stay with family.
“We passed by rest areas that had miles of cars just waiting to get into the rest areas, people parked sleeping their cars,” said Meyer. “I’ve never seen anything like we saw driving here last night.”
The family says gas stations were out of gas in Florida and grocery stores running out of water.
“We both work for Publix and we’ve been dealing there all week with everybody getting prepared for this,” said Rebeca Herbolsheimer. “I’ve never seen in like that. We are selling 30 palettes of water in a half an hour. People calling every… I probably took a hundred calls asking if we had water and of course we didn’t.”
The Florida family is staying with Rebeca’s mom and sister who are expecting a full house.
“Probably like close to 8 or 9, roughly, maybe even eleven,” said Kelly Hawley and Mary Ghist.
The two are also housing several pets.
“Oh my goodness, my best friend is bringing eight animals,” said Ghist. “My best friend has four that she’s bringing as well,” added Hawley.
The pair says after seeing the damage from Harvey there is no place they would rather their loved ones be.
“We’re just glad they’re here,” said Ghist. “This is my first grandson, first grandchild, and as long as he is safe I’m okay,” added Hawley.