Fort Lauderdale family evacuates Florida, comes to Bowling Green

By  | 

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- A family from Fort Lauderdale is taking refuge in Bowling Green as Florida is impacted by Hurricane Irma.

"It was something that I'll never forget," says Maya Assi, as she sits with her husband, Tarik, talking about the drive to Bowling Green.

"It took us double the time to get here [than usual], took us 28 to 30 hours," says Tarik.

The drive from Florida to Kentucky included their three small children in the back seat.

"It was very difficult to be in the car for that long, and to be on a highway driving bumper to bumper for pretty much the entire ride," adds Maya.

They were hoping to stay in Florida and just drive a few hours north, but quickly realized they needed to readjust the plan after Irma started heading to the same place they were going.

"First we went to Tampa, then we went to Atlanta," they explained, but the trip didn't end there.

"We stopped at two gas stations -- they were out," says Tarik, so they ended up stopping to fill up every two hours, just in case.

"Hotels were really hard to find, most all of them were sold out," says Maya.

As millions were driving out of Florida, some people were driving in.

"We saw some trucks heading south, we saw hundreds of trucks -- relief trucks -- already on their way from Thursday. Some of these big tanker-like trucks with police escort heading down, and also we saw what looked like National Guard to me, on their way down, and it was something really amazing to see," says Maya.

They finally arrived in Bowling Green on Saturday.

"We lost power at our house [in Florida] yesterday, but it's already back on. Power at the office is still off," they say, talking about the business they own.

As of now, the Assi's are relying on friends to learn about any possible damages, but they're hoping their home stays safe, as they boarded it up before leaving.

"Most of them [our friends], what they're saying is that they are flooded--water to their knees --and some people have experienced trees crushing their cars and their fences," says Maya.

Now safe in Bowling Green, staying with family, the Assi's are trying to make the best of the situation.

"Happy to be here, specifically here. The people here are just amazing," says Maya.

Maya has even coined a new term for the event, "It's a 'Hurri-cation'," she says, smiling.

"I always try to see the positive in everything, and I just feel so blessed that we're able to all be together --my sister and I --the cousins are playing."

Even the grandparents evacuated to Kentucky, and eight adults and eight kids are all staying here until it's safe to go back home.

Dozens of texts and calls were coming in all afternoon as loved ones checked in on the family.

The Assi's say they hope to go back to Florida as soon as possible, but want to make sure the roads are clear of debris before heading back.

On Sunday, the family went to Crossland Community Church in Bowling Green. When the local community realized they had left home because of Irma, people were offering to help in any way they could.

"I was as moved by them as I think they were probably moved by us. The hope that they brought with them, and they weren't discouraged, they just knew, they kept their eyes on the most important things in life -- not property, but people. It was just absolutely amazing to have folks from Florida here yesterday," says Pastor Gregg Farrell.

Crossland has partnered with a national organization to raise money for hurricane relief efforts.

Pastor Farrell says some church volunteers are going to do disaster relief training, in hopes of sending groups to aid in Texas and Florida to rebuild.

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station. powered by Disqus