“It’s definitely been a worry thinking about the approaching storm and not knowing just how bad it will be,” Natasha Smith told The Telegram via Messenger Friday.
“It’s such a beautiful day here today — probably the nicest day since we’ve been here. It’s hard to believe that there’s a large storm moving this way.”
But it is, according to national hurricane experts, and it’s moving fast.
Hurricane Irma made landfall earlier this week in the Caribbean as a Category 5 hurricane, one of the strongest Atlantic storms ever recorded.
The monster storm saw winds reach almost 300 km/h, leaving a path of destruction in such places as Barbuda, the Turks and Caicos, and St. Martin — an island comprised of the French St. Martin and the Dutch St. Maarten.
According to national reports, the storm’s eye doubled in size overnight Thursday, and the hurricane’s width is larger than the state of Florida.
On Friday, it barrelled toward the southern Bahamas on a course toward southern Florida.
But it’s still unknown how powerful it will be by the time it reaches there and which area will be affected the most.
Smith, 36, arrived in Orlando Sept. 2 with her parents Frazer and Malfred Smith, both in their early 60s, her sister Renee George, 34, and George’s husband Jason George, 41. They’re not scheduled to fly out until Sept. 19.
“We have thought about leaving and flying home, but with the ever-changing forecast nobody wanted to make that decision. It’s really hard to know what to do,” said Smith, adding that they’ve received several messages from friends and family at home.
“Obviously, we were really looking forward to our vacation and didn’t want to see it end a week early, but we also want to make sure we are safe. A vacation can be re-planned.”
Smith said they are following directions and if things get more serious and they’re told to evacuate, they will drive to Atlanta.
She said the highways are crowded and stores are struggling to keep water and food in supply. She said restaurants and theme parks are closing Saturday, and a 5 p.m. curfew will be imposed.
Smith said they have flashlights, extra water and some non-perishables in case of a power outage. They have also filled bottles and plastic baggies with tap water and frozen it.
She said seeing evacuees from more southern parts of the state flocking to Orlando makes them feel safer.
“It’s definitely going to be scary during the storm,” Smith said. “But we are in a good location and hopefully after it’s all over, all we will have is a good story to tell.”