SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Nearly two million people were under evacuation orders prior to Hurricane Ian’s landfall, not sure what they’ll be returning to. Many families decided to move inland as they brace themselves for impact.
“Ironically enough, we moved April of 2017, and that’s the year that [Hurricane] Irma hit Tampa Bay. Five years later, we’re dealing with another huge hurricane,” Dawn Liedtke said.
Dawn Liedtke lived in Springfield for nearly ten years before moving to Tampa. She said she was used to severe weather, like tornadoes.
“I was there for the Joplin tornado, which was absolutely devastating, where you don’t get that time to prepare, it happens in a moment’s notice,” Liedtke said. “Here in Florida, we have sometimes a week, two weeks to prepare. I say that’s a blessing and a curse. Because you’re just waiting. It’s that anticipation of how bad is it really going to be and how bad is the impact going to be afterwards? Like how long is it going to change our lives?”
Liedtke planned on taking her and her seven-year-old son to Orlando on Monday. They both ended up leaving early Wednesday morning to avoid traffic.
“I feel very fortunate because we were able to go to a hotel and be safe out of direct harm’s way,” Liedtke said. “I booked the hotel room for the whole week. I thought at worst-case scenario, we won’t have to deal with flooding and power being out, which was our biggest concern. Obviously, our home and everything like that is a huge concern as well. But I can only imagine like what it’s going to be like getting home.”
As the weather continues to intensify, non-profits on the ground are forced to hold off on preparations.
“A hard stop was issued at noon today to no more traveling because of danger,” Red Cross Volunteer Kim Mailes said.
Kim Mailes, along with several other volunteers from Missouri, is currently stationed in Orlando. Mailes arrived on Sunday and were on standby for a week before the hurricane hit.
“The last few days, we have been very actively involved,” Mailes said. “Does tons of semi-trucks bringing supplies, everything that’s needed to set up a shelter. We have been unloading those semi-trailers loaded onto what we call emergency response vehicles, which are box trucks. All of those supplies now have been distributed to the various trucks that are mobile. They’re stationed in safe areas around Florida.”
Mailes plans on being in Florida for two weeks. But, he said Red Cross will be there for at least six weeks. He said the best way to help those on the ground is to donate to Red Cross. People interested can text REDCROSS to 90999 or can donate online.