HOUSTON – At Bush Intercontinental Airport, there are several flight arrivals from Florida with many Texans leaving the Sunshine State as The National Hurricane Center forecasts show Hurricane Ian hitting the state’s Gulf Coast.
“We just had to leave,” said Alacelia Vega, who was in Florida for a family reunion.
She said her husband at their home in Orange alerted her of the storm’s trajectory.
“‘Are you watching the news,” Vega said her husband asked. ‘When are you getting out? You need to get out. You need to come home. You need to do it now.”
Vega wasn’t alone. Several Texans were on flights for home as Ian headed toward Florida.
Marsha Marby ended her visit with her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter early. Marby said her daughter’s family is leaving their Orlando, Florida home for a hotel as they brace for potential strong winds and flooding.
“It was surprising for it to come there because it usually goes somewhere else, so that’s a new one for everybody in Florida,” Marby said.
As they head home, volunteers with Crowdsource Rescue, a Houston-based disaster response non-profit, are driving to the forecasted eye of the storm.
“We’re expecting there’s going to be a lot of impacts, especially with late notice and the low evacuation numbers that we are seeing,” said Crowdsource Rescue Co-Founder Matthew Marchetti. “We’re thinking there’s going to be a lot of work to do and people to help.”
Marchetti said as of now seven separate teams are either in Florida or making their way there.
“Many of our volunteers are paramedics/EMTs so it could be with helping with medical issues,” he said. “It’s trying to preserve life as quickly as possible after the event.”
He said their team closely monitors the National Hurricane Center’s forecast before heading out to any storm near the region. Marchetti said they are not just responding to emergency calls, but trying to embed themselves with volunteer firefighters who may not have the manpower as larger cities, “with additional trained teams when they’re trained in swift water, they’re EMTs and paramedics, they’re able to work alongside first responders particularly after the event when thousands of calls are rolling in.”
As volunteers head towards the path of the storm, Texans back home say their minds remain with those in the path of the storm.