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Seeking refuge in the storm


The last flight out of town

Marci Chaves is taking a flight leaving from Palm Beach International Airport. For the past 15 years, Chaves has lived in Wellington, Florida. She is no stranger to hurricanes, and she says she doesn’t usually evacuate for hurricanes, but this year is different. 


Three years ago, during Hurricane Matthew, Chaves had to deal with the emotional stress of her father being in hospice and preparing for the storm.


“The experience was more overwhelming than I could bare,” Chaves said.


For Chaves, hurricanes are a painful reminder of a loss much greater than material possessions: the loss of family.


Although the memory of her father’s passing has made preparing for this hurricane too painful to stay, her home is not abandoned. Her husband is staying behind to wait out the storm while she goes to visit her son in Washington D.C.


Nearly the entire state of Florida was expected to be caught in the potential Category 5 storm’s path, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.


A Category 5 hurricane can sustain winds at 157 mph. The National Hurricane Center says a hurricane this powerful has the potential to destroy frame homes, cause major power outages and make affected areas uninhabitable for weeks or months.


Chaves is not the only resident leaving South Florida because of the forecasted hurricane. Karen and Larry Weiner are sitting a few rows up from Chaves on the plane. They are leaving Saint Lucie County for San Francisco to visit their sons and escape the uncertain path of Hurricane Dorian.


In 2004, the Weiners’ home suffered catastrophic damage after Hurricanes Jeanne and Francis. Their past trauma is what caused them to not want to stick around for Dorian. The couple says that while the government has improved its capacity to handle strong storms since 2004, they don’t want to take any risks. 


“It really looked like a war zone when [Hurricanes Jeanne and Francies were] over,” Karen said.


Floridians were not the only people preparing for the storm. The Associated Press reported on the conditions in the Bahamas as they prepared to face Hurricane Dorian. The storm ended up sitting over the Bahamas for two days, resulting in catastrophic loss for the island.


By Jessica Lykins

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