Hurricane Ian evacuees flee to Nashville

Many Southwest Florida residents have left their state in search of calmer weather until the storm passes.
Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 6:29 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Hurricane Ian is gaining momentum as it rolls towards Florida and many residents are feeling uneasy as the hurricane strengthens to nearly a Category 5.

Debbie Myers drove from Largo, Florida, to Nashville on Tuesday and saw others evacuating, too. Myers witnessed around 100 power crews and first responders heading to Florida during her drive. This was an eerie sight knowing how powerful the storm is.

Myers said it was tough leaving behind her home along Florida’s west coast, knowing it is in the hurricane’s path. She said the toughest part was leaving sentimental items behind.

“Like my guitars were custom made by Eric Brown and the other one was willed to me by my dad so we left those behind,” Myers said. “Although we did put them in higher places of the house, hopefully they’ll all be okay when we get back, but the rest of it - motorcycle, house, furniture - can be replaced.”

She will be staying with her sister her in Nashville until the storm allows her to return.

About 15 EMS strike teams from Middle Tennessee made it to Florida this week. They plan to spend two weeks in Southwest Florida.

Other Hurricane Ian evacuees flew into Nashville International Airport (BNA) this week, before the Tampa airport closed down due to the impending storm.

Tampa International Airport closed on Tuesday at 5 p.m. after the hurricane rapidly intensified, threatening to make a direct hit somewhere on the west coast of Florida.

FlightAware data shows more than 1,600 flights were canceled nationwide for Wednesday.

“Thankfully I caught a last-minute flight to Nashville and that’s why I’m here now,” Ross Turner said. “It’s really serious and a lot of potential to do damage for everybody there.”

Turner has lived in Tampa for three years. He said police knocked on his door on Monday informing him of mandatory evacuations.

“I mean, I literally kind of got a little shook-up walking on the jet bridge there because I don’t know what I’m coming back to,” Turner said. “Everybody can kind of connect over that feeling of not knowing what’s going to happen.”

Florida residents were evacuated before Hurricane Ian hit. See what Michael Warrick finds out.

Carley McDonald arrived at Nashville International Airport on a flight from Fort Myers, Florida. She felt lucky, having planned a girls’ trip for this week six months ago.

“I still have to worry because I have three children and I have a grandson (in Florida),” McDonald said.

Most major airlines are offering waivers and free re-bookings for people who had planned to fly into airports that are in the hurricane’s path.