Florida highways flooded by returning evacuees

Florida highways flooded by returning evacuees
Florida highways flooded by returning evacuees
Posted at 6:02 PM, Sep 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-12 14:47:33-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Local roads and highways are seeing a lot of traffic heading east and south as many evacuees start heading home.

For those we talked to, they're relieved Irma wasn't as powerful as expected.

With Irma in the rearview mirror, several people are choosing to go back home. Just a few days ago, before the hurricane arrived, they made the decision to pack up and head to safety.

"It was getting worse," said Carole Landes, an evacuee from Safety Harbor. "It made it sound like it was going to be horrible, and I live in a mobile home."

"When the direction changed, and it was going to go up the west coast, and if that was so, it would go right over Bradenton and Sarasota," said Deborah and Mike Haley, evacuees from Bradenton.

While Irma devastated parts of the Sunshine State, those heading home now said their homes for the most part were spared.

"A number of tiles flew off our house," said Rebecca Zeigler, an evacuee from Clearwater. "The back of our house -- we're not sure, because our neighbors couldn't get in to see, but no, I believe we were very fortunate. Our neighborhood has tons of trees down -- and none on our house, thank God."

But why come back now? Some checked what their local governments were saying on social media. Others, depending on the word of their neighbors.

"We know they said it's safe for us to go back," said Landes. "I don't know about other cities, but we know it's safe."

Being reassured, they started the long trip back along with thousands, maybe millions, of others.

"It's taken us almost five hours, and we're not quite to Tallahassee," said the Haleys. "That's longer than usual."

"I don't regret evacuating one bit. I want my family to be safe," Landes explained. "It was time and money, but we're going back safe, regardless."

While those folks are heading back, several counties in our area have lifted curfews, too. The advice from local law enforcement, once again, is to be patient.