Florida residents escape Irma by fleeing to Mid-Michigan - WNEM TV 5

Florida residents escape Irma by fleeing to Mid-Michigan

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

Thousands are fleeing their homes in a mass exodus from south Florida ahead of Hurricane Irma.

Those leaving by car are being met by heavy backups on the highways and long waits at gas stations.

Those opting to fly out of harm's way are trying to do so before airports are expected to shut down on Saturday.

Some of those fleeing from the storm have landed in Mid-Michigan.

"We would rather save our lives than our home. Material things could be replaced, but lives can't," said Darlene Wilczek, Florida resident.

She and her husband left their Florida home because they wanted to escape the potential wrath of Hurricane Irma.

The Michigan native said flying safely into Flint Bishop International Airport on Friday gave her some relief, but not completely.

"I cried for the homeless people and people who don't have money or places to go. They need your prayers," Wilczek said.

Wilczek said it took her three days just to find a plane ticket to come to Flint. She is worried about her house in Titusville and what might happen to it. She understands why so many people don't want to leave.

"Because you want to protect your belongings and you want to stay at home. Everyone thinks in the back of their minds it's not going to be that bad," Wilczek said.

There were flights going into Orlando from Flint on Friday, but those and many others were canceled.

Travelers arriving in Flint from Florida knew they were lucky to have made it, amid all the chaos.

"I'm glad I'm up here. I'm supposed to go back on Monday, but that flight might be postponed," one traveler said.

Wilczek doesn't know when she will get to go home. For now she will stay with family in Mid-Michigan. She said now is the time people need to come together and help their fellow human.

"There are all kinds of indifferences need to be put aside. And people need to think about caring for other people," Wilczek said.

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