Michigan Red Cross volunteers heading to Florida ahead of Hurricane Ian

ROMULUS, Michigan (WXYZ) – As Hurricane Ian approaches Florida, some are leaving the road while others in Michigan are also turning in.

Just under 72 hours before the storm made landfall, a handful of flights from Florida landed at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. Many on the plane leave the cities preparing to hit Ian.

“They said they would close the bridges in the morning. Hurricane sirens were ringing on our phones,” said Kimberly Heisler, who was on vacation in Tampa visiting her parents.

“Stop at the groceries. He said the shelves were empty. There wasn’t any water left anywhere.” Todd Snathen, who was on vacation with Orlando, said.

Sneathen also saw his son, who lives in St. Petersburg. The port city is right on Ian’s Road, so his son heads for more than three hours to St. Augustine on the Atlantic side of the state.

“We worked hard to get him to go somewhere else,” Sneathen said. “It was very stressful for me and my wife”

In Michigan, American Red Cross volunteers like Tricia Nelson are preparing for a deployment. She and 11 others will be heading to Florida.

“It’s possible that about a dozen of us so far are going down and going down before the hurricane to get the shelters ready, and we’ll be ready,” Nelson said.

Nelson has done similar deployments many times before. She even keeps the shoes she wears on every mission. She says her motivating factor is her husband.

“I was my husband’s caregiver,” Nelson said. “He was suffering from a long-term illness and I lost him in April of 2020.” “You can no longer care, and what better way to take care than to go down and help people who really need help?”

As for those who leave Florida, they are grateful to be back home, and to think of loved ones still in the Southeast.

“We are praying for everyone out there,” Hessler said.