Getting out of Florida before Hurricane Irma hits

With Irma threatening to strike Florida, people in our area are rightfully worried about their elderly loved ones living down there.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - With Irma threatening to strike Florida, many people in our area are rightfully worried about their elderly loved ones living in the sunshine state.

The mother-in-law of WUSA9’s Peggy Fox lives in Sarasota, which is on the Gulf Coast about 50 miles south of Tampa. Even though its not known exactly where Irma is heading yet, Fox’s family moved quickly to move Mary Jo Horan out of Florida.

“I just sort of had images of Harvey and my mom, my mom trying to get out of her house. I just can’t imagine any of it. We knew immediately she had to leave,” said Megan Mannell, one of Mary Jo’s daughters.

RELATED: VERIFY: Will Hurricane Irma be a Category 6 storm?

Megan was part of a flurry of messages between siblings Tuesday morning as oldest brother Richard Horan realized the potential danger.

“She’s getting up there in years. She still lives by herself. She’s very independent. But, it was kind of going through my mind, if something hit, how would she deal with it?,” Richard explained, saying images of disaster from Hurricane Harvey had an “enormous” impact on his decision to get his mother out of harm’s way.

The siblings moved fast to secure a flight for their mom after getting her approval. That was after Richard realized there were few flights left.

“On United, there was nothing available at the airport she would normally fly out of.”   

He asked Megan to find a flight and book it.

“When I started looking, it became obvious it was going to be limited flights. She needs a direct flight to D.C.  and the direct flight (from Sarasota) was already $800. So she was going to fly out of Tamp,” said Megan, who bought a ticket for her mom from Tampa to D.C. for Wednesday night.

Mary Jo is pleased. 

“So far no one’s worrying about (the storm). I think because it’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s 90 degrees. It looks fine. I think they’ll just get worried when it gets closer.  But I’m very happy not to sit here and worry about it,” Mary Jo said Tuesday morning. 

She did say friends reported grocery stores shelves were starting to go bare. 

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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