FL evacuees seek shelter in TN as officials prepare for Irma rem - WSMV Channel 4

FL evacuees seek shelter in TN as officials prepare for Irma remnants

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A group of Florida State University students left Tallahassee for Nashville. (WSMV) A group of Florida State University students left Tallahassee for Nashville. (WSMV)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Tennessee became a last-minute home for hundreds of Hurricane Irma victims just as the state prepares for the remnants to hit the area.

The American Red Cross has opened five shelters statewide. News 4 spoke to a group of friends from Florida State University who are grateful to be away from Irma's worst.

"One of my friends texted me and said her neighbor's house had completely lifted off of its foundation," said Brian Kilbride, a Florida evacuee.

They packed up what they could and left Tallahassee for Nashville on Sunday.

"Tallahassee is such an old town with the big oaks and the big pines that any little bit of wind is going to knock out a power line," Kilbride said.

Sleeping on airbeds at the home of family and friends, they are concerned for their families who stayed in South Florida.

"I kept texting my parents and telling them to evacuate. I was like, it sounds like it's going to hit Tampa really, really hard," said Daniel Cardenas, a Florida evacuee. "They didn't end up leaving, but my dad did board up all our windows. And he put a bunch of heavy tarps in the back where we have the sliding glass doors so no debris would go through the windows."

Devastating images of Irma's wrath on Florida could send more evacuees to Tennessee. When the four friends leave for home on Wednesday, they aren't sure what they will go back to, especially after their experiences with past storms.

"I know I personally was without power for a week after that. It was very hard," Cardenas said. "The gas stations didn't have gas, Publix was empty. And that was a really tough storm and part of what was making me apprehensive about Irma."

After Hurricane Irma pounded Florida, the monster storm is headed straight for Tennessee with high winds and rain as the biggest concerns.

"I'm worried about Tennesseans staying cautious and not driving on roads that are covered in water. I'm worried about folks being outside when it's windy instead of being in protected structures," said Patrick Sheehan, the director of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

TEMA said Florida and Georgia leaders want people to be patient and wait it out. Due to flooding, debris and downed power lines, TEMA said to check with local county governments to see when it's safe to go back home.

"Someone from Miami for instance, shouldn't go ahead and return. Really they'd be driving through a tropical storm to get home to a place that doesn't have gasoline, doesn't have electricity perhaps, and is dangerous," Sheehan said.

Florida residents can check floridadisaster.org for more information. For details on shelters, check with your local Red Cross chapter at redcross.org.

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