Sunday, September 10, 2017

One Story of Irma Refugees: Friend And Her Family Flee Sarasota

I just talked to my friend Lynne.  She moved to Sarasota to be with her then 90 year old dad last year. Lynne has been my guide into the world of blindness and it was with mixed feelings that she decided to leave Alaska.

Sarasota is on the west coast of Florida.  It's low lying, near the water.  And in the path of Irma.  She told me they were looking to get to higher ground - probably a nearby hotel. [UPDATED:  They were in a mandatory evacuation area and had been told to get out.]   But her son called from Seattle and told her to get out of Florida.  She has a cousin in Tennessee.  Her dad, who's pushing 92 now and her older brother weren't sure about the 760 mile drive to Tennessee, but finally agreed.

The three of them, plus Lynne's guide dog, got in the car at 7:30 pm Friday night and drove 20 hours to Franklin, Tennessee.  Dad drove.  Oh year.  The cousins are there.  There on vacation in Hawaii, but they told them they could stay in the house.  They arrived yesterday (Saturday) afternoon about 2:30 Central time.  So now they are adjusting to the new situation.  For a blind person, that's a lot more difficult than for sighted people.  She has to figure out the paths she can take around the house without bumping into things.  And she can't just look into cabinets and closets, she has to feel for things.  And cans of food don't usually have Braille labels.  There are apparently lots of stairs which are harder on her dad than on her.  She just needs to know where they are.  He can see them, but has trouble getting up and down them.  She's still trying to figure out how to connect to the wifi.

But they're out of the storm (for now anyway).  They don't know how long they'll be there or how it will work out when the family gets back.  Their condo is on the ground floor and they're worried about what will be ok when it's over and they get back.

But for now they are safe and adjusting.

[UPDATE Monday Sept 11:  Lynne got word that there's no flooding but the evacuation is still in place and roads are impassable - lots of trees down and still falling.  They're also waiting for the electricity to go back on.  Maybe they'll spend the night somewhere on the road so they don't have such a long drive.]

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