Some in Florida Chose Not to Evacuate

Some in Florida Chose Not to Evacuate

They each decided to stay as a powerful storm neared Florida’s southwestern coast, weighing the threat of destruction and flooding against that of trouble evacuating on clogged highways.

Now, they wait.

In Cape Coral, Jim Farrell, 67, was counting on his shutters to withstand the wind and on the expertise accrued from his years as a television meteorologist, which had led him to sell his waterfront home and move to higher ground. He was staying put in his second-story condo, despite being in a mandatory evacuation area, he said.

“It would take the end-of-the-world type of hurricane to chase me out of here,” said Mr. Farrell, who retired last year and is watching the approaching storm from the perspective of his longtime viewers. “I specially picked this condo because it’s at the highest elevation point in Cape Coral.”

In 2004, Mr. Farrell, projected a path for Hurricane Charley that diverged from the National Hurricane Center’s after he noticed a deviation in models. His prediction was correct, and many in Charlotte County credit his warning with saving their lives after the area was hit by the storm.

Although he personally feels safe, he said he was concerned for the thousands of people living in lower-lying areas along the Caloosahatchee River.

“This has the potential to be one of the most famous hurricanes for this side of Florida,” he said.

Molly Capiga in North Fort Myers was banking on the generators, gas cans, tarps and batteries her family had amassed in recent years.

Her home was not under mandatory evacuation orders, but she was on edge with water already pooling inside her shed by Tuesday evening. Ms. Capiga, 43 years old, was second-guessing her family’s decision to stay but said she felt they hadn’t had enough time.

“I am scared. But we are prepared,” she said. “I do not think that Florida has the infrastructure to facilitate an orderly evacuation and did not want to get caught in traffic and run out of gas.”

Dr. Giselle Prado-Wright moved expensive medical equipment and computers from her cosmetic surgery and wellness clinic in Fort Myers to her home in a more sheltered area.

She has two children under 2 and said she had no choice but to stay because of her business, with patients looking to schedule liposuction before the storm. She hasn’t even had the time to get her home ready for the storm, she said.

“It’s not that simple to just up and leave town when you own a business,” she said.

Sarah Schafer, a cook living in Sarasota, tied down her kayaks and brought a gazebo tent indoors.

Ms. Schafer, 33, said she decided not to evacuate because she felt safer hunkering down in her own home than taking her chances on the road along the evacuation route. She is also skeptical of media reports on hurricanes, saying that they always seem to show only the worst-hit areas.

Even so, she and her girlfriend made sure their gas tanks were full and took measures to secure their home, Ms. Schafer said.

“We do know it’s not a joke,” she said.

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