Below are stories from some of those residents with Boston ties, and how they are planning to weather the storm.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9:
Cait Spain: I'm 32 and just moved from Millbury, MA in February to Naples, FL. My family is in the Millbury/Worcester area and the Melrose area. I went to school at UMass Lowell and Worcester State. I'm currently at my cousin's house in Groveland, where we will be dealing with tornadoes and flooding. I helped put up the storm shutters on the house I live in before leaving with my two cats. Traffic was not too bad on I-75 from 7:30 to 11:00pm. My mother and her best friend are going to weather the storm in Naples. Our house is one block from where I-75 curves east toward Ft. Lauderdale. Hopefully this will be safe from storm surge.
Jacqueline Maillet: I am a nurse at Holmes Regional in Melbourne. I just moved here from Franklin, MA. I lived in MA my whole life and moved here for this job opportunity. I am by myself with 2 dogs. I made the decision to shelter in place after I saw what the highways were like with no gas and heavy traffic. I wasn't going to leave my pets or go to a shelter with them. My closest family is VA or TX at this point - so shutters and sandbags it is! By not evacuating, I am also available to assist as medical personnel as soon as they need me. I'm in Melbourne - inland enough to not be mandatory evacuated.
Jonathan Gravato: I was born in Salem, MA and lived in Peabody, MA until I was 19. I moved to Central Florida where I became a graduate student at the University of Central Florida, Go Knights! My fiancé, Pamela Bendezu, and I live in Casselberry, FL which is just north of Orlando/Orange County. We live in a single floor condo about 56 to 75 feet above sea level. We are inland so we do not anticipate storm surge. We are pretty prepared; wish we had more ice, but, all-in-all, we are prepared with food, water, the comforts of home, and some books. I ordered some sandless sandbags and hurricane clips for our windows. We are not allowed to attach boards to the outside of our building so we need clips to hold the boards in place. Unfortunately, those supplies did not come in on time and we were left to prepare in other ways. The reason we opted for sandless sandbags is because the lines for regular sandbags could be up to 6 hours long. That is too much time to wait when you are trying to prepare your home for a storm of this magnitude. We were hearing reports and tracking the storm through the weekend, but things started getting real around Tuesday and Wednesday. After Barbuda was devastated, water, fuel, and other supplies were desperately sought after. It's chilling to go to a store and see every flashlight, every bottle of water, and every bag of ice gone. The hysteria around the event makes everyone panic and then you have people who would normally drink a bottle or two of water per day scrounging up every case they can get their hands on. We had experience gathering supplies for Hurricane Matthew but Irma is a lot worse than that storm. We lost power for Matthew for a total of two hours; never lost the chill in the fridge. Yesterday was different though. With the trajectory of the storm shifting a little further west every day, the point in time when it was coming up the middle of the state was something to worry about for us. My mother lives in a manufactured home and I had stumbled upon images of when Hurricane Andrew had devastated the Gulf Coast in 1992. It was tough to see images of a manufactured home park ripped apart like a large dog's chew toy. Being glued to the weather updates has been a roller coaster this past week. I am physically exhausted from running around, moving plants and outdoor furniture in, preparing our home and the homes of our parents. Constantly worrying about having the right supplies, having enough of them, and not missing anything is mentally exhausting. Getting it right is worth it in the end, but you just don't know for sure until you're in the storm and then through it the next day. Pamela said she felt like we were cleaning up the house for our dinner guest, Irma, to come over. This will be a slow, devastating storm, lasting about 7 hours while it rolls up the peninsula at 12 to 14 miles per hour. We will make it through the other side of this, assess the damages, and help our fellow neighbors until we are all OK. That is what you do when everyone is forced through the same mess at the same time. Irma will whip us around, make us uncomfortable, but bring us all together in the end.
Meg Lane: I live in Orlando, FL. I lived in NH for 22 years and moved to Central Florida in 2010. Most of my life was spent in New England. My mom lives in Hudson, Massachusetts and my sister, brother-in-law, niece, and nephew live in Kingston, NH. We went through the Matthew storm last year, but this is our first year truly going through a hurricane. We have planned to hunker down and hope that we are fully prepped for what's ahead. Many of our neighbors have either evacuated, are staying at a shelter, or have boarded up their windows and doors, making it a quiet scene in Orlando. All of the restaurants and stores have closed, too. Our hope is that this storm keeps moving west to prevent hitting much land.
Jorge Sousa: Grew up in Somerville and I have family from Manchester, NH to Fall River, MA. My family and I live in Lehigh acres FL, Southwest coast, just east of Fort Myers. My wife Laurie, daughter Taylor, and son Kyle. As far as the this storm goes, started out possible eastern coast storm. But we know you can't make any real decisions until you know where it's going. Example, my parents live in the N, Fort Myers area. Being an older couple decided to leave the area and headed to Largo Fl, a suburb south of Clearwater. Well that's on a peninsula with the highest point being 33 ft above water. With this storm tracking west, looks like it may end up going up and around southwest Florida and going right to where they thought would have been a safer place. Now with no gas and having to second guess themselves. They have decided to stay and see how things turn out. Here in my area, skies are clear and warm. It's windy, but not anything more than usual. Shutters are up, my son and I started on Tuesday and finished the next evening. The yard is cleared and we have tied down both sheds. One is for the trash bins and the other lawn equipment. Right now we're just hanging out, we have neighbors over and we're just staying positive. We where out early this morning finishing up some final things around the house and helped the neighbor finish pickup around their yard and pool area. So far no changes, we'll be here with fingers crossed and high hopes. UPDATE: It's the 7 o'clock hour and it has gotten pretty dark. Still quiet outside. Power is still on and we have been communicating with friends and family. So far everyone seems in good spirits. The storm seems to be moving WNW. If it keeps going on that direction, means good news. Creating distance between us and it.
Tim Greenwood: I'm originally from Ipswich, MA. I went in the Army in 1992 and I was a broadcast journalist. I moved to Haines City, FL in 2014. Currently, the hurricane looks like it will go right over us on Sunday night. I have everything boarded up. The house is less than 2 years old. We prepared for a week. Water, canned food, batteries, etc.
Hays Blinckmann: I am a reporter for the Keys Weekly Newspaper. Married, mother of two boys Hugo, 9, and Max, 7, both born in Key West. Lived here since 2002. My family has lived on Martha’s Vineyard since the early 1920’s. I went to high school in Newport, RI--St.George’s School and have a B.A. from Tufts and B.F.A from Boston Museum School. I am an artist as well as the author of the novel, In The Salt. My family is still here due to many factors: basically the rest of Florida will be destroyed and there will be no coming back once we leave. We have Category 5 shelters here, and Key West is up to 18 feet above sea level unlike most places in Florida. If we can just make it through 12 hours of the storm, it’s better than leaving home to traffic, hotel rooms, no gas and uncertainty. Eventually, the airport will re -open after the storm and we can leave without chaos, the Navy is here, many local officials stayed, ems, and electrical engineers stayed. Key West is like New England, it’s made of the strongest of souls.
Larissa Chiccino: I'm a native Floridian of 28 years and am used to hurricanes. We were in North Port, Florida during hurricane Charlie in '04 and the rest of them that year. I have lived up in southern New Hampshire for five years now, with many friends in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. I am currently down in Port Charlotte, Florida on vacation with my three kids visiting my mom. We will be taking shelter at my friend's house in North Port for the storm. We were able to get extra water (eventually after much searching), food, and supplies. Although the stores were scarce and many closed yesterday evening. We're finishing up preps for my mom's house in Port Charlotte right off the Harbor now. Plan to be to North Port by this evening.
Alexandra Brooking: I am currently living in East Lake, FL but staying in Tarpon Springs at my mother's house to ride out this monstrous storm heading towards us sometime tomorrow. I was born and raised in Salem, MA and have been down here in the Tampa area since early December, so as you'll know this is my first Florida hurricane! My first thought was panic, but now that I'm battened down, stocked with plenty of food, water, and anything else we may need to get through this, I'm feeling ready to take on Irma! Praying for my Florida friends and hope that my Mass. friends are praying for me! Wishing everyone the best during this.
Melissa Dynan: I have a Master in Public Administration, from Suffolk University. With almost 20 years in community development, I relocated to Miami and began my consultancy, serving nonprofits and public sectors. I am active in politics and civic engagement and have worked on a few local campaigns. For recovery efforts, I will be working with Miami-Dade County Commissioner (district 7, my commissioner), Xavier L. Suarez, former Mayor of Miami. I worked on his re-election campaign (2016) and since serve as pro bono advisor. This is my first large hurricane, Matthew last year ended up fizzling out, did not amount to much here. Earlier today we began getting outerbands of storm-rain, some wind. News said winds of 40/50mph expected here at 4ish, in Miami Beach area. It's just a little windy here now (the Grove). UPDATE: Wind gusts just 25 mph in Coconut Grove. Even so, some of the docks have broken/smashed. Being reported (just now) that some people decided to stay in their houseboats. Potential for 4-6 storm surge in Miami-Dade County. Coconut Grove is listed at 13 ft above sea level-though some areas are lower, some higher. Miami-Dade Mayor Gimenez (speaking at conference now- 5:37pm) that it is 90% likelihood would reach that level, 10% could exceed.
Pauline Nassif: I reside in East Taunton, Massachusetts and flew into Tampa last night to help my Dad George Nassif who lives alone in Largo, Florida. I am a global studies educator in Southeastern, Massachusetts with a beautiful 26-year-old daughter who is back home in the Boston area and praying for my safe return. Her birthday is next weekend, and we will definitely be celebrating when I return safe and sound. My father was discharged from the VA Hospital on Thursday after spending a week there due to his fight with cancer despite my repeated requests to keep him in a safer location rather than be alone. He is an 86-year-old disabled veteran. After arriving last night I was able to secure some gasoline for his truck but had some difficulty finding a gas station with supply. This morning I secured his home and packed some provisions and registered us with the local shelter at Largo High School. We settled in around 1:30pm. At this time the shelter is very full but still accepting more residents. The way it is set up here is you basically find space in a classroom, floor space in the hallway, or if you are lucky to get to the gym, it is first come first serve. We were able to set up space in the gym where it is more open. They will serve us three meals and do their best to keep us safe and keep order. Now that I have settled my Dad in, I will look to help volunteer.
Joel Harvey: I grew up in Worcester. I served in the military. I have lived all over including Houston for 3 years. My parents just went through the last hurricane, and now its my turn. I'm an asst. manager for Wal-Mart and have been with them for the last 15 years. I have 3 kids. For now we're sheltering at their school.
Robin Wright: [I'm] from Bradenton Florida. I am staying in our block home weathering the storm with my husband Chris and son Derrick. I am originally from Londonderry, NH. Our windows are boarded up, we have plenty of water, and we are just waiting now.
Doris Fink: I've weathered many storms and have never experienced this overwhelming fright and panic at the idea that we were possibly in the cone of a direct hit from a category 5 storm. My husband Artie and I own A-Z Home Watch Solutions here in Jupiter and in addition to closing up our own home, we are responsible to care for our clients' vacant homes and to prepare them for the impending hurricane. We will do post storm checks as soon as safety and accessibility allows. At this time, the latest advisory has moved the storm west with a possible hit to the west coast in areas such as Ft. Myers, Naples and Tampa. Because the storm is so large and unpredictable our warnings have not been removed and danger from winds and tornadoes is still very real.
Kimberly Boersma: With the storm approaching our plan is to weather it out. I am a Real Estate agent with Century 21 and my husband is a local Chiropractor, we have 6 children. We were not told to evacuate as we don't live in a flood zone. We do not know what Irma will bring our way, but we are prepared and have extra supplies to help any of our neighbors. We live in a small community where everyone is willing to lend a hand. Hoping Irma looses strength and we all come out unscathed.As Hurricane Irma continues to bear down on Florida, many former New Englanders are among those preparing to ride out the storm as it makes landfall this weekend.
Bethany Kolenda: I'm 26 years old and I'm from Amesbury, Massachusetts. I moved down to Florida three years ago with my parents and my sister. The rest of my family still lives in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Right now my family and I are staying on Marco Island and we do not plan on leaving.
Stephanie Stairs: I am from Milton. I lived there until 2002 when I came to Fort Lauderdale. My parents are very involved in Milton and are Barbara and Marshall Levy. I speak to many people in Massachusetts to this day. I was here in 2005 for Wilma which was devastating and that was a category 2. This is very scary. They are calling it catastrophic. Everyone here is on edge. The gas lines were tremendous, water was hard to find and stores are now closed until further notice. I live on water but all precautions have been taken. We moved all our outdoor furniture into the house, have our gas and generator ready and my valuables are in the dishwasher. Thank god we have impact windows at my house. A lot of people don't understand why I've decided to stay. When you have worked as hard as some of us have we want to stay. I could never leave and wonder what was happening at my house. Would be more stressful.
Jeanne Tsoulas: I am now living in Orlando with my husband, we moved here in 2004. We both grew up in Peabody. I worked for Aggregate Industries in Saugus before we decided to move. I now work for GES/ Expo services in the trade show industry. We are unsure of where the storm will hit, since it keeps wobbling back and forth, this will be our first real hurricane. Some cities have issued curfews however Orlando has not done that yet that I have heard.
Ken Batastini: I am 63 years old and live in Lakeland, Florida after I took a promotion with the Postal Service to manage a post office here. Born in Boston and have resided in East Boston, Somerville, and Tewskbury as late as 2004 (I tell everyone that it took me to move to Florida for the Red Sox to finally win the World Series). I have three grown daughters, all from Tewksbury, now residing here in Central Florida.
Robert Jasinski: I am 31 years old, originally from Massachusetts and was born and raised in Abington, Mass. I moved to Seminole, Florida in 2016. My grandmother has lived here for over 40 years and I always visited Seminole growing up. I was actually even here for Hurricane Andrew in 1992. I lived in Quincy the last few years in Massachusetts and worked in Boston for the last three years. When the storm was getting tracked a week ago it seemed like the west coast where I live would not be in the path of the hurricane, it was the "worst case scenario".... well the "worst case scenario" now seems like the most probable scenario. When the storm tracks were coming out and pointing out the East coast getting the worst of Irma, we were told to let the east coast evacuate, now since it's hitting the Gulf Coast, resources are scarce and it seems like its too late to evacuate now. I live about two miles away from the Gulf beaches and the street I live on changes evacuation zones every other house. Luckily I live on high enough grounds that our evacuation zone is right before the "non evacuation zone." We have blocked off all windows at the house and luckily my house is built with brick and should withstand the winds. Store shelves are bare and gas is scarce and has been since Tuesday. We're stocked up on water and food and ready for the storm!
Brandon Forrester: I'm 41 and was raised in Worcester. I moved to Deerfield Beach, Florida in 2004. My first year here we had 2 serious hurricanes. The following year Hurricane Wilma changed everything! Mass destruction! I could tell some crazy stories about the aftermath. It was like nothing I had ever witnessed. Since 2005 I have worked at Bostons on the Beach in Delray Beach(currently the Valet Manager). My wife and I own four rental properties in South Florida. We live in a 4 bedroom home with our two girls (two and five years old) and my mother-in-law in Coconut Creek, Florida. We have no shutters or panels and did not put up plywood so we packed up and are staying with some friends who lives close by. They have a generator and everything else we need to be safe and comfortable.
Jimmy Duggan: I am a chef originally from Burlington, Massachusetts. Irma is coming my way in Ft. Myers but we are staying.
Jen Schlosky: I am from Taunton, Massaschusetts, but originally from Boston. My sister, Maria, her husband Michael, and her daughter Sarah moved to Orlando last year after they retired. I came to visit on my vacation. Due to flight cancelations I'm here to ride out the storm with them. We have prepared with necessary items the best we can and see others doing the same. The shelves are pretty empty in the stores of essentials, but in areas we have been in people have been respectful and supportive. For now it is the calm before the storm.
Bari Marks: I'm 36 years old and I live in Lake Worth, Florida. I teach kindergarten in Boynton Beach. I moved to Florida in 2001 from Sudbury, Massachusetts where I grew up. My uncle and I came to Disney world to ride out the storm because the eye of the storm was supposed to hit close to home so we decided to come further north. As of right now it won't hit home as bad which is good. We went to the Magic Kingdom Friday and had barely any lines getting on rides and Saturday we are going to go to Epcot. The Parks are supposed to be closing Saturday night around 8/9 and will be closed Sunday and Monday.
Ryan Thomas: I moved with my wife Jessica and daughter Rachael to Orlando last July from Dover, New Hampshire. I was born in the Cape and have family in Lowell and Middleboro. I work for Northpoint Mortgage, a Massachusetts based mortgage lender. We have decided to stay home in Lake Nona (Orlando) since we have not been told to evacuate. The stores have been cleaned out of water, bread, batteries, and other essentials all week and gas stations do not have gas. Florida has evacuated a lot of people and we figured if we tried to leave it would make it harder to evacuate the people that need to get out. My neighborhood has formed a group called the help mob and has been going all over the neighborhood helping people put things inside, shut off sprinklers, and help with whatever people need. We have a very strong sense of community here in Laureate Park and we feel safe knowing we are surrounded by so many great people. We have put everything away, drained our pool two feet, cut back trees and bushes, taken down our Patriots flag, and have taken pictures and video of our home. Unfortunately, we do not have anything to board up our windows with and there is nothing to be found. We have gotten lots of calls, texts, and emails from friends and family back in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. We are also surrounded here by many New Englanders. We have been told the city will be cutting power as the storm approaches.
Deby Smith: My parents, in their 80's, live in Westport, Massachusetts and my brother and family are in Wrentham. I have lots of family in Westport, too. My husband Dave and I have been in Orlando since August 1989. We've lived through many hurricanes in the last 28 years....but this one is different! We've secured our home, stocked up on water and non-perishables, propane for grill, and gas for generator. Plenty of wine, too! PLENTY - we hope!! Our plan is to stay put with our three dogs, hunkering down in our bathroom closet area with inflatable mattress for protection. We've been informed that the theme parks are closing early Saturday, remaining closed Sunday and Monday. Most malls are closed until Tuesday and our mayor stated there are no available hotel rooms in Orlando. In 2004, after Hurricane Charlie, we were without power for three weeks, a tree fell into our pool, we lost our fence and roof, and that storm had sustained Category 1-2 winds for a duration of two hours. Irma is predicted to have sustained winds of 100mph for 36 hours! Huge difference! There will be catastrophic damage in the Orlando/Central Florida area. Homes and possessions can be replaced, lives cannot be! Truth be told, right now the waiting is the worst!
Jessica Merkaj: I am in Ft. Myers, Florida now. I was born in Newburyport, raised mostly in Amesbury. My family is originally from Springfield. I came to Florida in 2009. I have three children, Austin, Brandon, and JessaLynn. Brandon sadly is in a facility for special needs and can't be home with me during this time. I have opened my home to a few friends for safety and comfort. Store shelves are empty and people are going nuts! However, I am sticking to my Boston Strong roots and will ride it out at home. I want my baby girl to be comfortable. This has been a high anxiety time and costing a lot of money to prepare for! But we are ready!
Catherine Cargill: I moved to Worcester from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2000, transferred by Morgan Construction. Two years later took a job for MIB, Inc. in Braintree. But in 2015 I realized I had to come down to Lake Worth to care for my parents who are now 91 and 94. They are unable to evacuate because they are so frail and unable to take car trips longer than an hour or so. My mother, Ursula, survived the Dresden bombing. My father, Tom, a Captain in Bomb Disposal in WWII, not only defused 1,001 bombs for George Patton, he was in charge of the destruction of all the leftover German and American ammunition in 180 igloos--the largest demotion in the history of the world (no kidding), when he was 22. So they say, "Ah, this is nothing in comparison." My upstairs apartment neighbor is from Massachusetts, and he has graciously allowed me use of his apartment, should we be flooded here on the first floor. Our condos were built in the 70s and are like bunkers. Most of the residents are staying, and my building is particularly occupied by people who still work. Everybody's been working in teams to make sure everyone is as shuttered up as possible. The staff at Murry Hills is fantastic. Unfortunately, many residents don't have shutters on their porches, so there's going to be some damage, I'm sure. I have done everything I can think of to prepare us, including putting all our most precious belongings way up high in the apartments and wrapping them in plastic, getting the electronics wrapped and up high. My shutters are up, the front door is bolted shut, we have a radio with batteries in it, a lot of candles, flashlights, ice, water, and food. I've watched all the videos on preparation and have done all they suggest, including the quarter on top of the frozen cup of water to tell if things had defrosted. So we are hunkering down. My parents' best friends are here with their son. We are going to use Zello, the walkie talkie app, to communicate.
David Wholey: I currently live in Pelham, New Hampshire with my wife and two kids and was raised in Chelmsford. I work for a large property management company and was originally sent down for standby to be sent to Puerto Rico. Our property there faired well and we were instructed to stay in Orlando to prep for impact. We will be staying at the Florida Mall Hotel as part of an Emergency Response Team. Should the need arise we may be dispatched to any of the properties here that need us.
Jen Johnson: I was born in Cambridge and grew up in Somerville. My dad, siblings and other family are still in Boston. I moved to North Port, Florida in 2004, which is in Sarasota County in Southwest Florida. We are in the red zone under hurricane warning. The hurricane will be hitting us some time late Saturday into Sunday. We are staying home. I am married with three kids. My son works at an animal shelter and has to go in to prep animals for the storm in Port Charlotte. It's been a stressful week prepping searching for water, food, and supplies. The highway is slow moving due to all the people trying to leave. It's terrifying knowing a massive storm is coming. I lived through blizzards, the April Fools one in 97, I believe it was and this storm has me sick to my stomach. I am a strong Boston girl but Irma is frightening!
Tim Greenwood: I'm originally from Ipswich, Massachusetts. I went in the Army in 1992 and I was a Broadcast Journalist. I moved to Haines City, Florida in 2014. Currently the hurricane looks like it will go right over us on Sunday night. I have everything boarded up. The house is less than two years old. We prepared for a week, getting water, canned food, batteries, etc.
Jessica Oliveira: I am here in Central Florida. I was born and raised in Massachusetts and left when I was about 26 to Tennessee for two years and now here in Florida since 2012. All my family is still up in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. I’m married and have three kids. I am a Real Estate Agent here in Florida. We are riding out the storm and boarding up our windows. I am about 25 minutes from Orlando.
Cheryl Maymon: I am originally from Westboro, Massachusetts and lived in Massachusetts until I was 24. I moved to Florida in 1992 just a very short time before Hurricane Andrew. I lived in Fort Myers at that time so didn't experience that hurricane first hand. In 2004 I was living in North Cape Coral, when Hurricane Charley hit Punta Gorda, just 15 miles north of me. I am a commercial property manager and I had a 70,000 square foot building that I managed in Punta Gorda at that time that Charley hit, so I spent many months after Charley in Charlotte County putting that building back together to be able to lease again. I also had many friends in the Punta Gorda /Port Charlotte area at the time as my husband works for the Sheriff's department in Charlotte County. In 2015 I moved my residence to Charlotte County and we recently bought a house in Punta Gorda. Now we have Irma facing us. I manage shopping centers, office complexes, and industrial buildings all over Collier, Lee, and Charlotte Counties. No matter how long I live in Florida, the Patriots and the Red Sox are my teams! We love Jet Blue Park, Fenway South!
Tim Lambert: I was born and raised in New Bedford Massachusetts. I moved to Florida in 2014, and I currently live in Groveland, which is about 25 west of Orlando. I chose this area because I figured it was the safest in the state. It is the highest elevation in Florida and we actually have hills here. I am currently a School Bus Driver for Imagine South Lake School. I still have a lot of family and friends still living in the New Bedford area. I am staying in my home, which was built in 2014. It was constructed with the newer Hurricane building codes so I feel safe. I live here with my fiance and my two children. I am not evacuating.
Erin Hinchey: I am 38 years old living in Altamonte Springs, Florida, which is about 10 minutes outside of Orlando. I have been living down here for the past 21 months while attending graduate school at the University of Central Florida for speech-language pathology. I grew up in Billerica, Massachusetts, and my parents still live there. I have a sister who lives in Pepperell, Massachusetts with her husband and 2-year-old son. I am planning on "hunkering down" in my apartment for the storm. For the past two days I've made many trips for supplies and following tips on where to get higher demand supplies such as batteries and water. It took me four hours to find a case of water. I have to organize the materials I have gotten. It's been a long couple of days waiting to see what will happen with Irma!
Suzi Katz: I grew up in Brockton and still have family and friends there and in surrounding cities. I attended Fitchburg State University back when it was still a college and then went to Northeastern University for graduate school. I moved to Orlando in 1997 for my job, but Boston is still in my heart and I visit as many times as possible throughout the year. My family spends an extended vacation each summer on Martha's Vineyard so I just returned from there a few weeks ago. I was up there this past week and when I saw that the storm was coming I jumped on a plane home to get my home ready. I live in a small city called Ocoee that's located just outside Orlando. I picked my neighborhood because it reminded me of home. Lots of large trees and quiet streets. All beautiful until hurricane season arrives every year. I am riding out the storm in my home. While I am not in a flood zone, the wind is extremely scary. I've made my preparations in advance and normally have many things in place at the beginning of the season. I freeze gallons of water instead of using bags of ice since they last longer in a cooler. I had been without electricity for a week back in 2004 and it definitely helped with keeping my perishable items cold. Prior to the storm you have to be patient. I waited three hours yesterday to get bags of sand for myself and my neighbor to make sure our front and back doors would be covered and keep the rain out. It was quite a hot day, but I didn't want to sit with my air conditioning on because gas is at a premium and a lot of people still needed it. I haven't boarded up my windows. Some of my neighbors have and it makes me a little scared because I didn't. I like to see what is happening outside which is risky. I will be watching the storm closely and hope that the bulk of it takes place during the day. The last few things I have to do is put important items in large ziploc bags. I am a writer and my manuscripts and computers are important along with family pictures, which are irreplaceable. I keep a bag ready just in case I do need to leave and have my pets papers and crates available. Of course, I have food and water to last me a while. I charge everything and keep a strong battery so I am able to recharge anything I may have to. I also have to cook food that won't be horrible to eat cold. One of the things that I definitely thought to do was have my bike tuned up and available. Cars may be banned from the streets and it's important to be able to get around after the storm. So, essentially I am scared...probably petrified like everyone else and am hoping for the best.
Laurieanne Morse: I've lived here as a Realtor in the Tampa Bay Area for the last 11 years. I was born in Brockton, class of 1976. I raised my sons in Easton, and my oldest still resides there. My son Noah lives in Tampa and is with my husband (was pharmacist for Osco Drug for years) and we hope for the best from Irma.
Cathi Marro: I was raised in Newton, Massachusetts. I still have family in Massachusetts. I moved to Miami in 1990 and I've experienced several hurricanes including Andrew in 1992. I will be staying in my house with my husband and two cats during Irma. We have hurricane impact windows and roof. We stocked up on water and food for ourselves and the cats. When our neighborhood loses power (and I'm sure it will), we will rely on our solar panels to continue to provide us with electricity.
Larry and Gail Pueschel: We moved to Naples, Florida in October full time. We were in Washington DC area for over 25 years, but our daughter Jessica is the head Chef of the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. We made our way from Naples on Wednesday to Orlando, hoping to reach Atlanta, Georgia, but because of lack of gas and how long it took us to reach Orlando we have decided to hold up at the Hyatt Regency Frand Cyprus Hotel. We are very concerned about our home in Naples as now the storm has moved more west. We are here with our oldest daughter Wendy Grossman and her two children. Her husband is a doctor in Naples and had to stay behind.
Robert Kedian: I currently live in Venice, Florida, and I have ties to Massachusetts. I lived in Haverhill, Massachusetts for 10 years. I attended elementary, middle, and high school there. During high school, I worked at the Haverhill YMCA as a lifeguard. After I graduated I spent an additional few months working for the Y before I made the decision to move to Venice. I moved to Florida in December of 2015 to work for Petco. I still work for Petco as the Merchandise Operations Leader and I absolutely love it. My plan for Hurricane Irma is to make sure all my needed supplies are out and to just stay indoors and watch the storm pass.
Sue Courtade: We evacuated South Florida and made it to Brooksville, Florida. The roads were very slow and the gas was scarce. It took seven hours. We're hoping for the best at a hotel.
Charbel Khadij: I was born and raised in Lowell, Massachusetts. I moved to Florida 11 years ago. I live in West Palm Beach area with my family. Married for 6 1/2 years and have a 20-month-old baby boy named Malachi. My wife's name is Heather. I am an EMT currently in the fire academy at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, Florida. We are hunkering down in our single-family home riding out the storm with enough supplies and provision to last us a week to ten days.
Eve Garvey: I am originally from Framingham and later Medway, now living in Lake Worth, Florida, which is south of Palm Beach and north of Ft. Lauderdale. I grew up in metro west and worked for IDG in Framingham after graduating from Bentley. As you know, we are awaiting the arrival of Hurricane Irma. Forecasts are continually changing as to where the eye will hit so we remain vigilant. We have our hurricane shutters in place and are riding out the storm in our home. We have prepared our safe room and despite long lines and low inventory of supplies are stocked up for the duration whatever length of time it may be.
Tom Levett: I'm originally from Malden, Massachusetts. I have three children and six grandchildren. I worked for Gillette for 14 years until they were sold in 2005 and that is when I moved to St. Pete, Florida. I have two dogs Kaiser and Cody and we are going to ride out the storm in my Condo in evacuation B. I have all my supplies for me and them and am hoping this will not be as bad as they say it will be.
Scott Goldstein: I grew up in Randolph, Massachusetts and graduated in 1986. I'm 48 and moved to West Palm Beach in 2003. This will be my seventh hurricane. I was in two major hurricanes in 2004 where my mother's building was completely devastated and two more again in 2005. Without power for about 10 days in each of those. Three more minor hurricanes since and this is supposed to be the biggest! We will see. I've stayed because my mother and sister and their four dogs are here and I want to be here for them. My heart and soul is in New England. My nickname at work is Boston Scott because they all make fun of my accent. It's a great accent!
Jackie Saganich: I am currently an Orlando, Florida resident who's from Massachusetts! My parents and brother currently still live in Shirley, Massachusetts. I just recently returned home from a small getaway to visit them all! As of right now my family and I have decided to hunker down and wait out the storm. The storm has caused a lot of worry, but the residents here seem to be taking the necessary precautions. Wednesday afternoon my boyfriend traveled to Miami to rescue his best friend from the potential hazards of Irma. It took him 10+ hours due to all the traffic; around Thursday all south bound lanes on the highways were shut down for evacuations. We are all safe and fully stocked with food and water. I went to the four different stores this morning to get gas ($2.66) and any food we needed. Many gas stations are either without gas or have higher prices due to the lack of product. Miami's gas prices were at ~$3.50. When I got to the store at open (7am) there was already a line of customers waiting out side, most of which went straight for water. The stores have done well to restock the shelves as much as possible, but if you were not there when they got deliveries, most items were gone. We've already moved all of our outdoor items, drained our pool, and plan on filling up bath tubs with water! Luckily we are on high land and have only a few trees around. Our current weather update predicts we will receive a category 3 hurricane by the time it reaches us here in Orlando. The current route shows us, Orlando (orange county), to be hit dead on by the eye. We have board games ready for some old fashion family bonding and are ready to see Irma!
Kristal Ardizzoni: Born and raised in Wales, Massachusetts. Me and my family relocated to Springhill, Florida in December of 2016. This is the first hurricane me and my family have to deal with and it is pretty scary considering how powerful and how huge this storm is going to be. Almost the whole state of Florida is under mandatory evacuation and the whole state is in a state of emergency. Our govener is trying his best to make sure everyone remains safe and has all the essentials we are going to need for this storm however the demand is far too high to meet them all. We payed 30 dollars for two cases of water because stores were completely out. It took me 2.5 hours in line waiting to get gas for my vehicle and gas stations are running out of gas so you are lucky if you are able to fill your tank. Me and my family cannot even evacute and are just bunkering down at our house and preparing for Irma the best we possibly can. They are now advising us it is safer to stay home at this point than to evacute due to the highways going north are bumper to bumper and almost all of the hotels from Florida to South Carolina are already booked full. You do not want to be caught in this storm stuck in traffic in your vehicle. We are Florida strong and our community is trying to do the best they can to help each other out and get through this storm together as one.
Lorraine Anderson: I live in Spring Hill, Florida, about 30 miles North of Tampa on the west coast of Florida. I moved here from Lawrence, Massachusetts in August of 2015 after I retired from Philips in Andover, Massachusetts. I worked there 37 years. I’ve been enjoying the state of Florida on my Harley and enjoying my retirement. This Hurricane Irma is going to be a whopper. I’ve been through many nor’easters up in New England so I know how to prepare. As I get ready for Irma to arrive, I will hunker down with my beagle dog, Harley and my kitty, Frankie.
Barbara McKinnies: I grew up in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and my husband grew up in Holbrook. My husband and I moved to Bridgewater in 2011. With three young children and after that harsh winter in 2014 where we received over 110 inches, we miraculously landed a once in a lifetime job opportunity in the Florida Keys in the spring of 2015, so me, my husband Charlie, and our three young boys relocated from Bridgewater to the Florida Keys. We are currently almost 30 weeks pregnant with boy #4 and followed mandatory evacuation from our home in Tavernier, Florida on Thursday, September 7th. We are currently staying with my parents in Palm Bay, Florida, who also moved to Florida full-time in 2015 from Massachusetts. Given the traffic, gas shortages around the state, and my current pregnancy, we felt we were safe weathering the storm here in Palm Bay. However, given all the updates we are watching on the news, no place in Florida looks safe. We knew hurricanes were always a threat for us relocating to Florida, but never one this catastrophic. We left our home on the keys with our two cars filled with whatever we could grab, not knowing what we were going to go back to. Sadly, we just sit here, watch the news and all the updates, and wait to see what our future holds.
Jack Manning: I am originally from Abington, Massachusetts. I moved to Centerville in 1994 and lived on Cape Cod until I retired from my position as Postmaster of West Falmouth in June of 2015. I spent my first year of retirement living in Arizona before moving to Palm Bay, Florida in June 2016. I live here with my oldest son and my two dogs. This will be our second hurricane since we arrived in Florida. During hurricane Matthew last October at the last minute we decided to ride it out in a hotel in Orlando. This time I am putting my dogs in a kennel and my son John, who has a disabity, and I are staying with a relative in Melbourne. It's not that far from my house but is a much sturdier home built under the stricter building codes implemented in 1993. My place is all boarded up and we stocked up on all the essentials as at a minimum I expect long term power outages. So tomorrow the plan goes into effect. I think we made the best decision for us.
Rachel Le Blanc: I'm from Newburyport, Massachusetts, grew up on Plum Island specifically weathered many a storm there. I've lived here in Port Charlotte, Florida area now for 12 years, and moved here right after Hurricane Charlie. Many people got a false sense of security when we thought it was going to go east and now there's a rush to shutter and board up as it looks like we may take a direct hit or close to it. I myself only boarded up yesterday. If not for the grace of a very good friend who found me the supply of plywood and helped me get it all up I would be in deep trouble. Things are battened down as good as possible time to weather the storm!
Erik Marr: I moved around so much that it's hard to say where I'm from but most directly have ties to Boston, Haverhill, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, with family and friends still in those areas. I currently live in St. Petersburg, Florida, just about smack dab in the middle of the peninsula. A couple of my roomates and I who didn't leave will be riding out the storm at home. We don't seem to be in an immediate flood zone and our home is tucked between two houses so hopefully will be shielded by the wind some. Supplies went quickly, and it's nearly impossible to find any food, water, or supplies like plywood, batteries, gas, etc. I am a prior restaurant manger currently serving at Spinner's, a revolving restaurant on top of St. Pete Beach. Those areas have already been evacuated and they're closing the bridges in due time, so from this point out we hope for the best, occupying ourselves with Netflix and Cards Against Humanity, and probably a viewing of The Perfect Storm.
Laura O'Brien Casna: I am in Bradenton/Sarasota with my sister Lisa, my niece Samantha and her 13-year-old daughter Abigail. We bought the only available flights out on Wednesday to fly out Sunday 7am...too late! No sooner flights. So we have been stocking up on water, food, and candles. We are all from the Northest and are used to snowstorms but they don't blow your house down or float you away! This is terrifying, we may be floating on rafts in my living room.
Anthony Silva: I'm 29 years old. I'm an orthopedic and emergency technician. I moved from Dorchester, Massachusetts to Naples, Florida where I reside. I grew up in Dorchester and lived in Boston my entire life until moving here. I've been here for two years. I'm staying here for the storm. I'm in the north Naples area. I evacuated my home but I am staying with friends and their family in the North Naples area.
Linda Baker: Born and raised in Norwood, Massachusetts. My parents are still in Norwood and I have lots of family still in the area. I am currently living in Bonita Springs Florida. I am as prepared as I possibly can be. The plan was to hunker down at my home but I am getting more and more concerned with the storm surge and it's looking more and more like I will head to a shelter. Plan, prepare, pray and adjust has become the only thing we can do at this point. So far all is calm. I am packing the car so I am ready to leave. My home can be replaced. UPDATE: Time to make adjustments; got the call that I am now in a mandatory evacuation area so I am heading to [a] friend's home further inland in Naples to get east of I75. Packing up all my supplies and heading out as they are talking about 10 - 12' surges and I am in a flood zone. Most of the shelters here in Lee County are completely full the rest will be full shortly. Collier County [is] not much better. Please continue to pray for us. UPDATE: Right now I am safe with friends in Naples. We are about 4 miles east of Interstate 75 and at a much higher elevation. My home in Bonita Springs is only at elevation of 2.63 and where I am now is at elevation 23.7 so not worried about storm surge where I am now. Definitely starting to get some heavy rains sporadically but nothing too bad yet. We are all waiting for the 11 p.m. update but have turned off local channels until then to try and bring some of the anxiety down to manageable levels. We are well stocked with emergency supplies but not letting our guard down.
Olivia Weber: I was born in raised in Melrose, MA and moved to Tampa last fall to attend the University of South Florida. I am in my second year here and this is my first hurricane. I am currently planning to stay in Tampa even though the storm has taken a turn to come towards us. We have bought all the necessary supplies and plan to hunker down in our apartment.
Janet Messcher: I live near the Suwannee River, just north of Live Oak, Florida. I am equidistant from Jacksonville and Tallahassee, about 15 miles from the Florida-Georgia border. I grew up in Lynnfield and met my husband at Northeastern University, where we both graduated in 1987 and married in 1989. We bought our Florida property in 1999 as a vacation home and moved here full time in 2009. Our home is at the northern tip of Suwannee County, about a quarter mile away from the famous Suwanee River. This morning's report stated that Irma will probably be near a category one storm when it goes over us early Monday morning and we decided to [ride] out the storm here. I've been collecting hurricane supplies since the season started and we have a generator for when the electricity goes out. Our biggest worry is regular oak trees falling. Last year, we lost six healthy oak trees. We were very fortunate that they did not fall on anything significant. As of now, my two kids attending the University of Florida in Gainesville are staying put and my married daughter, son-in-law, and mother-in-law who live just over the Florida-Georgia line are staying home also.
Jessica Bagrowski: I'm originally from Billerica, Massachusetts. I live in Manatee County (Bradenton, Florida). Right now, at 4:00 p.m., it's starting to get a little windy. Kind of gray. We have boarded up our windows. It's apparently not going to get to us [until] late Sunday night.
Angela Brown: I'm in Orlando and I'm from Duxbury, Mass. I am a designer with Walt Life Apparel: a clothing company here in Orlando. I lived in Marshfield and Pembroke as well on the south shore. I'm here with my family and prepping for the storm.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 8:
Karen Young: I am from the Boston area and I am currently in Orlando at Disney World. We were supposed to leave on a cruise today but that got canceled so we had to find a room to stay in. We are expecting to get out of here until Wednesday. We were supposed to leave on Monday but that is when the storm will be here. We booked a second flight home on Wednesday since we don't expect on Monday flight to go.
Alex Hutchinson: I grew up in Avon, Massachusetts, spending about half my life in southeastern Massachusetts. I've been traveling down to Florida for 25 years but moved here about seven years ago. I work as an airport shuttle driver. From Wednesday to Friday I drove 12 hours per day helping people evacuate. My company shut its doors today to give drivers and staff a chance to leave. We have decided to stay. My wife Terri Brashear and I live on the west coast in a small beach town called Englewood. We live in a flood zone in Charlotte county, which is expecting storm surge of 3 to 6 feet and winds up to 75 mph. We are only 100 feet from the Gulf of Mexico. Luckily, we have a stilt house that sits 12 feet above the ground. We have boarded up the windows, stocked food and water and are preparing for the worst. We have been in several hurricanes, so we have an idea what to expect. However, no one has ever seen a storm this large and we still don't know exactly which direction it will go. Most of our neighbors live in mobile homes and the local islands have already been evacuated. Gas stations have been mostly empty for days as millions of people are driving north on crowded highways. We figured we would send this out now as we are likely to lose power in the coming days. There are many Bostonians living in this part of Florida, most are retired. Hopefully we will come through this unscathed so we can help others who might not be so lucky.
Catherine Olen: My name is Catherine Olen and I have lived in Central Florida now for over 10 years between Tampa and Orlando in Kissimmee. I was born and raised in Milton, Massachusetts, then lived in the Boston area till I met my husband from Worcester. We have three kids - 34, 31 and 28. All born and raised in the Worcester area. I am an insurance fraud investigator and that's about it. Still married - 29 years - my youngest is here in Tampa. A lot of family and friends in the state of Massachusetts - been getting a lot of love and prayers from Massachusetts.
Whitney Roberts: I'm staying in Lakeland, Florida, during the hurricane. I'm originally from Haverhill, Massachusetts, and moved to Florida in 2004. This will be my fifth hurricane to ride out since moving here. We got four in a row the year I moved here from Boston, which was my senior year of high school. Lakeland is in between Tampa and Orlando on the Interstate 4 corridor. The path of the storm has shifted and looks like we may be getting the eye - we will see.
Robert Wood: Riding out here in New Port Richey, Florida, which is about 45 minutes from Tampa. We're under mandatory evacuation - my partner, mother-in-law that's 82 and my dog, Bruce the Beagle. We're in a 55-and-over mobile home community and expect major flooding. I survived Andrew in 1992 and that was devastating.
Lisa Fidler: We are in Bonita Springs, just south of Jet Blue - Spring Training for the Sox. We shuttered up and are hoping for the best.
Joanne Jacobsen: I'm from Danvers, Massachusetts, now living in Venice, Florida - 20 miles direct south of Sarasota. The town is directly on the Gulf. Zone A residents (downtown and beach) have just gotten the mandatory evacuation announcement. We'll be here throughout the storm. We are staying at a friend's house (they are from Beverly) who has roll down steel storm shutters.
Thomas Levett: All my family is in Boston - my three kids and six grandchildren. Hello, everyone - love you! I am here with my two dogs Kaiser and Cody. I am in a Evacuation B and in my condo on the second floor and prepared with water, flashlights, candles and lots of junk food. I am due to come to Boston on the 22nd for a wedding, God willing. Irma hope it goes back where it belongs out to sea. God has brought me this far not to drop me now so I have faith we will be OK. I live here now but Boston will always be a part of me.
Tara Cappadona: I am originally from Waltham, Massachusetts. I've been in South Florida since 2001, so I've seen more than my fair share of hurricanes, but this one has me nervous. I live on Fort Lauderdale Beach, which is under evacuation. I intended on riding out the storm at home, however given the magnitude of Hurricane Irma, I've decided to evacuate. I am currently staying with friends in Hollywood, Florida. My biggest concern is for my baby son and mother, the biggest reason for leaving my home.
Katie Ullmann: I grew up in Plymouth, Massachusetts - it is my home and always will be. I graduated from Plymouth Carver High School and went to college at Massasoit. I live in Fort Lauderdale with my fiancee Michele Bryce. We will be riding the storm out with my mom, Ellen Ullmann. She also lives in Fort Lauderdale and is a Bostonian as well.
Barbara McKinnies: My husband and I and our three young boys relocated from Bridgewater, Massachusetts, to the Florida Keys in 2015. We are actually almost 30 weeks pregnant with boy number four, and evacuated our home in Tavernier, Florida, yesterday and are currently staying with my parents in Palm Bay, Florida, on the East Coast. We plan to stay here through the storm tomorrow/Sunday.
Joe Fauvel: I grew up in Lowell, Massachusetts, and also worked in Boston for six years till I moved to Orlando in 2000. I went through the three hurricanes in '04 too and multiple tropical storms. All my family is up north. My parents live in Tyngsboro and my sister and nephew are in Chelmsford. I've been in constant communication with them. My girlfriend, myself, her son, his fiance and our three dogs plan to ride out the storm in our home. It’s fairly new. We have stocked up on water and non-perishables. We have extra gas and propane tanks for grilling because we will lose power for days. The patio is all secured with tables and chairs flipped. Tomorrow we will fill up containers with water and freeze some. I work of the University of Central Florida which is a huge university. I’m physically located there in a government building so after the fact I plan to go there. They typically get power back quickly and have showers if we need them.
Jacy Croteau: I'm formerly from the Newburyport area. We moved to St. Petersburg on Madeira Beach. We bought our home this past April. We had a flight today to Boston to see our children and to celebrate our parents' 60th wedding anniversary. We had to cancel the trip. We have been driving all over the area for water and gasoline, both of which we now have. Right now we are busy boarding up our home. We live across from the bay. We have an emergency kit and extra food for us and our puppy. We are getting evacuated tomorrow, and a very nice neighbor invited us to her son's house 10 minutes away.
Kevin MacNeil: I grew up in Arlington, Massachusetts, and lived in Medford, Massachusetts, for a brief while until I was 23 years old. I've been living in Florida now for over seven years. I still have my parents and my twin little brothers who still live in Massachusetts. Our plans for the hurricane is we boarded up the house and put hurricane shutters on all our windows. The toughest thing about this storm is I am getting ready to get married to my best friend and fiance Deb in about two weeks. We had to relocate all of the wedding stuff, including groomsmen's gifts, bridesmaid's gifts, my tux and her belongings in case we are not able to go back to our home. Our wedding is in Pennsylvania and if our home and place of residence is destroyed, we plan on leaving from Jacksonville to go straight to the wedding.
Maggie Deal: I moved to Florida in '04 after graduating high school. My family is originally from Beverly, Massachusetts. I spent time living in Haverhill and Atkinson, New Hampshire. Our plan is to secure our house the best we can, but may spend the duration of storm at a friend's to be close to who we have while hoping Irma does the least amount of damage possible. We have bagged sand each day this week in preparation. Gas stations have had lines 30-plus car lengths long, if they even have gas. Grocery stores are starting to look normal again. Wednesday there was no water or canned goods to be found. I will be working tonight at Flagler Tavern. We are one of maybe three places still open on beachside in New Smyrna Beach.
Steven Grant: I worked at AbbVie in Worcester till I retired three years ago. We now spend our time between Clinton, Massachusetts, and Orange Park Florida. My father, who lives in Winter Haven, has come up to be with us for the storm. We have lots of water and food just in case we lose power. Water in the bath tubs, etc.
Rob Churchill: I was born and raised in Quincy, Massachusetts, and spent the majority of my life living in Quincy. I moved to Southwest Florida in October of 2013. I currently live in Estero, Florida, which is south of Fort Myers and north of Naples, where I work at a golf professional. We've been aware of Hurricane Irma for over two weeks. Being Hurricane Season, the local news gives us updates every newscast. Initially, my plan was to evacuate to Mobile, Alabama, when Irma was a Category 5 with its sights set on Southwest Florida. Then the track shifted dramatically to the east off the coast of Miami, so we canceled the plan to head north. It's only been within the last 48 that the track shifted back to the west and I made the decision to shelter in place instead of evacuating. I've spent the last 24 hours putting up hurricane shutters, watching the news and recording updates on Facebook for my friends and family. I have an ample amount of food and supplies. The car is gassed up and ready to go in case we are told to evacuate. Gas and supplies have been hard to come by. Many gas stations ran out of gas days ago and have not resupplied. Home improvement stores have run low on wood and generators but are doing their best to restock as fast as possible.