SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) – People from all over Florida were forced to pick up and leave their homes to get out of Hurricane Irma’s path, some of them seeking shelter in central North Carolina.
The Gomez and Ruiz family packed up their five kids and headed to Madison, Florida, where they planned to ride out the storm.
“We were scared and we have kids so we were very concerned about their safety, that’s why we had to leave Naples.”
When they heard Irma could be headed that way, the family of 11 played it safe packed up their two vans and hit the road again and ended up in Smithfield, North Carolina at the Red Cross’ shelter. Some of their family stayed behind.
“They said it’s pretty bad,” said Leticia Gomez . “Parts of the city are pretty flooded. There’s no electricity, no water, and I believe 75 is closed as well so we cannot go anywhere.”
Their family members are safe, but told them a tree fell on one of their cars and those powerful winds shattered some of their second floor windows.
“Sad and anxious to get back,” said Gomez. “At least we kind of know what to expect. A lot of palm trees all over the place and stuff like that, but just hoping for the best and hopefully the government will start helping clean everything up and we need gas, electricity, and as soon as we have all that back I think we’ll be fine.”
All things considered, the family says they feel pretty lucky.
“Yeah the main thing is we’re fine,” Gomez said. “We’re alive and we can rebuild and start all over again.”
The family planned to head back to Florida Monday, but says now they will wait until Wednesday or Thursday.