WNY’ers rush to leave Florida as Hurricane Irma heads their way


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — As Hurricane Irma heads towards Florida, residents rush to get out of the category 5 hurricane’s path.

Niagara-Wheatfield native Robert Phillips is packing up his stuff and returning to Buffalo. He’s been living in Fort Lauderdale for the last two years, but is leaving days ahead of the historic hurricane.

“When I see people leaving that I know have been down here their entire lives, it’s time to go,” said Phillips.

Phillips owns an apparel company about a half a mile from the beach. He waited in a two mile line just to get sandbags to prepare for the possible damage.

“There’s windows across the front of the business we boarded up and put sandbags all along the bottom of the door,” said Phillips.

Phillips says gas stations in Florida are selling out of gas and water and batteries are flying off the shelves.

He plans on flying back to Florida on Monday, but he says that may not be a possibility.

About an hour north in West Palm Beach, north Buffalo native Jeri Muoio is preparing to stay since she’s the mayor of the city.

“We know that it’s coming, and now is time to get prepared so we have a couple of days,” said Muoio.

Mayor Muoio is working on getting an emergency operation center fully up and running by Friday. She says crews have been cleaning up and securing anything that could fly away during the storm.

“My fear is that people will not take this seriously. Tthis is a very serious hurricane,” said Muoio.

Both Muoio and Phillips say they’re use to storms and blizzards being western New Yorker’s, but they’ve never experienced anything quite like this.

“I don’t know, I think this is a little bit more scary to me than a blizzard, maybe because I’ve lived in them my whole life , but it seems like hurricanes kind of wreak a little bit more havoc,” said Phillips.

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