WNY natives in Florida prepare for Hurricane Irma

Posted at 6:33 PM, Sep 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-07 08:43:04-04

With Hurricane Irma barreling down on South Florida, and a possible landfall just a few days away, Floridians are frantically preparing for the strong storm. 7 Eyewitness News spoke with several WNY natives about what preparations they are taking and how they plan to stay safe over the next week.

Jillian Gilmartin grew up in North Tonawanda and has lived in Key West for the past 12 years. She decided to evacuate Wednesday. Gilmartin plans to head north and wait in a safer place to see what might happen with Hurricane Irma.

"This one just looks so unpredictable, I don't think a lot of people want to risk it and take the chance," Gilmartin said. "There's a lot of people who have lived here their whole lives who have never left and they're actually leaving for this one."

She left with her husband Wednesday afternoon after shuttering her windows and packing up some supplies.

It's a different experience for Michael Kowalick. He just moved to Florida in June after living his entire life in Hamburg, so this is the first hurricane he's ever had to prepare for.

"When I see people from Florida panicking, that made me more panicked myself," Kowalick explained.

He lives on Florida's Gulf Coast, just outside Tampa and is packed and ready to drive north if that's what the authorities instruct him to do.

Jim Devine, originally from South Buffalo, plans to stay home in Titusville, east of Orlando on the Florida coast, until meteorologists have a better idea of where Hurricane Irma might make landfall and how strong of a storm it will be when it does so.

"You can tell people are starting to get nervous," Devine said. "In a lot of stores there's no water on the shelves. Gas stations are running out of gas. So people are starting to get pretty nervous about this thing."

"You prepare for the worst and hope for the best," Kowalick said. "It is very scary though, I won't diminish that at all."