While many of Florida residents are evacuating their homes in order to escape Hurricane Irma, which forecasters say may make landfall in southern Florida as early as Saturday, one mom says she'd rather prepare for the storm and shelter in place.
Beth R., from Coral Springs, told Redbook magazine that she and her husband have spent the past week preparing for Irma, with the help of their five kids (ages 15, 14, 13, 12 and ten), rather than evacuate like many others are choosing to do.
"When Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for Florida on Monday and then mandatory evacuations for some parts on Tuesday, our family had a decision to make," Beth wrote in an essay called "I Refuse to Evacuate My Five Kids for Hurricane Irma". "And we've decided not to evacuate. We'll shelter in place, no matter what."
She said that her kids were "scared at first", but due to the frequent nature of hurricane warnings and watches in their area, she says they have quickly become more confident the more the family prepares.
Beth lists chores like putting up hurricane shutters, checking the roof for loose tiles, putting away lawn furniture and stocking the house with batteries, water and gasoline as part of the family's to-do list before the storm hits.
"Lots of people still see the risk as too high and lots of well-meaning friends and family have asked if we will evacuate," Beth wrote. "Honestly, I don't know that anything would change our minds at this point. If my kids were younger, like toddlers or babies, I might be tempted to evacuate, but right now they're old enough to be more of a help than a hindrance. We can handle this."
As for why the family has decided to shelter in place? The mom says she wants to be as prepared as possible for the hurricane and wants to be able to help the community in the aftermath, should that be necessary.
"If we do get hit by Irma, we — as a family — want to be right here to do what we can to help others after the storm," Beth wrote.
"It was incredibly powerful to see how much people have worked together to recover after [Hurricane] Harvey instead of abandoning the ship. The community that we've come to love so much will need us if the storm hits close to home, so we're staying right here."