2017-10-01 / Spotlight News

For the Torres family, together was the only way to flee

By Carlos Torres
Grade 9, Estero High School


Carlos Torres and his family, at the cabin in Sevierville, Tenn., to which they evacuated. (Rear) Diana, Carlos, Ana and Griselda Torres and (front) Celestino and Ana Torres. 
Contributed Carlos Torres and his family, at the cabin in Sevierville, Tenn., to which they evacuated. (Rear) Diana, Carlos, Ana and Griselda Torres and (front) Celestino and Ana Torres. Contributed It all started in the living room, on television, with the news of a potential category 5 hurricane making landfall in south Florida. A subtle feeling of worry began to envelop the house, but nothing really changed; it seemed too far away at that moment. With every day that Irma trudged across the Atlantic Ocean, the need to make an emergency plan was discussed.

Hurricane Irma rapidly became an unpredictable menace, leaving the meteorologists scrambling to provide an accurate prediction. Hunkering down at home no longer seemed like a plausible choice. With the encouragement of news outlets and the government, an evacuation was the best answer for our family.

Departing from home wasn’t simple, because one of my older sisters was still working in the midst of the emergency. We all decided that if she couldn’t leave, none of us would; we stay together, regardless of the situation. Fortunately, she was granted permission to leave.

The resolution of an issue, however, always seemed to bring about new problems. Numerous gas stations were empty, and people were desperate to fill their car tanks. Through I-75, it was trial and error, some gas stations providing gas and others disappointing.

The moment the car passed the state boundary and entered Georgia, a wave of relief circulated around our family. Though our intent was to head to Nashville, my sister soon learned that the hotel rooms she had reserved had been sold to other guests, at a higher price. Exhausted and stressed, my family booked rooms at another hotel for the night.

The next day in the breakfast room, an unanticipated headline was showing on the TV: The eye of the hurricane was heading to the southwest coast. Despite my worry over friends and belongings left in Bonita Springs, I tried not to brood on the idea, but my family is “emotionally infectious.” Once one of us began to feel the anxiety, it passed down to rest of us. A debate sparked on how long our stay should take, involving work and availability. A decision was made to prolong our stay because of the fear of flooding and the lack of power, gasoline and food.

Nearly the entire state was booked, but we managed to rent a cabin in Sevierville, Tenn. We were incredibly grateful that we could evacuate safely, and after landfall, that our friends back home were safe. Others weren’t fortunate enough to have the opportunity to leave and had to endure the hurricane’s wrath. Irma eventually did reach Tennessee, but it wasn’t the same Irma that devastated Florida. Her light rain assured us that the initial danger ceased, and that we could return to our state and hopefully to our home.

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