Many people in Northeast Ohio have ties to South Florida — family, second homes, scheduled vacations.
And as the Sunshine State braces for Hurricane Irma, many are busy making plans.
Kelly Warsaw was hopping on a last-minute one-way flight from Cleveland Hopkins Airport to Ft. Lauderdale on Wednesday afternoon, ready to ride out the storm with her elderly mother.
“She’s on oxygen full-time, so she can’t easily evacuate,” Warsaw explained. “I knew that I needed to be with her, so here we go. Everyone says I’m crazy, like ‘why are you traveling to Florida?’ but my mom can’t leave.”
Marlow Robinson is from Cleveland, but lives in Ft. Lauderdale now. She was heading back home from a trip to Northeast Ohio, swapping out her carry-on luggage for loaves of bread. She said she left her clothes behind and instead, packed her suitcases full of items her family in Florida may need.
“I’ve got Chef Boyardee, I’ve got anything that doesn’t require energy or a microwave, lots of batteries, flashlights, bread,” Robinson said, adding that Spirit Airlines even waived her overweight baggage fee.
News 5 also spoke to several Northeast Ohioans flying down to board up and secure their second homes before the storm reaches Florida.
From the people prepared and going — are the people prepared and coming back to Cleveland.
Matt Mramer landed at Hopkins Wednesday afternoon. His flight from Miami to Cleveland had been booked Sunday, with insurance, just in case.
“I wanted to get out before everyone started trying to get out so it was time to hop on a flight and head back,” Mramer said, adding that it was largely thanks to his mom. “She called me and I said, ‘It’s not going to be that big of a deal,’ and this time she was right. So mom, if you’re watching, good call.”
It's too early to tell whether the storm will affect the US mainland, but current forecast tracks show it could turn toward Florida over the weekend.
President Trump has declared an emergency for Florida as the storm approaches.