Florida family evacuates Hurricane Ian; sought shelter in the Bluegrass

Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 6:04 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Hurricane Ian is devastating many parts of the Southwest Coast of Florida.

Many Florida residents are fleeing the state in an effort to save themselves from the damaging storms. One family in particular seeking shelter here in the Bluegrass.

David Bybee, his girlfriend, Mary Harper, and her son, Grayson Bates, have all been staying with Bybee’s family here in Bowling Green.

They were hesitant to leave their home but said it was essentially their only option.

“I was refusing to leave at first just because we have ridden them out before and I didn’t see the severity of it, but he obviously saw more of it than I did. I agree with us being able to leave and being safe” said Harper.

They drove 12 hours in a car with six pets, to avoid the 150 MPH winds, heavy rainfall, and deadly flooding.

Bybee says that since Hurricane Ian was projected to be a direct hit on his family’s home in Tampa, it definitely changed the way one should think in the event of a natural disaster.

“It is human nature in a way to kind of think, “I’ll be okay, it will never happen to me,” until it hits you and until something happens,” said Bybee.

“I know with us, we just kind of decided last minute, ‘you know what? We just need to go.’ We just grabbed some stuff and got out of the house. Fortunately, material things can be replaced, but what can’t be replaced is life and loved ones.”

Bybee says he and his family had no other choice but to leave their home once they realized it was more than just a storm.

Once they left, they knew it was going to be difficult to find shelter closer than 12 hours.

“We would have had to drive far to get away, regardless,” said Bybee.

“I called around a couple of hotels and different stuff and everything was booked. We would have had to go to Georgia regardless, but luckily, you know, my sister opened her doors and told us to come here.”

Bybee says he and his family will be heading back home in the next couple of days, now that the storm has moved out of Florida.