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Florida evacuees in Quitman head home

After Hurricane Irma, Florida evacuees staying in Clarkco State Park in Quitman are packing their bags and getting ready to head home.

“We’re leaving tonight at 3 a.m., so we can try and avoid some of the traffic like we did getting here,” said Matthew Morin, who’s from Tampa.

A long way from home, the evacuees drove hours from places like Mariana and Tampa just to get to safety.

“We had to make our way as far as we could. We would drive, stop, and say are we there yet? No. Keep going. Here we are in Mississippi. The people here at Clarkco State Park have been really gracious to us. They’ve made sure that we’ve been accommodated despite the challenges so, we appreciate that a lot,” said Alex Arriaza, who’s from Tampa.

Even though it’s still too early to tell just how much damage Irma has done, the residents say they’re happy to have bypassed the storm.

“When I hear life-threatening winds, it sounds very terrifying, so we weren’t trying to stay. I have a bunch of friends in Tampa, Sarasota, Orlando, and Jacksonville that stayed. They’re all okay, so that was good. But they said it was all really scary because there were tornadoes in the area,” said Morin.

The challenge now is what they will find when they return home.

“I hope that all my family and friend are okay. I hope that my city is okay. Maybe while we’re out here we can pick up some supplies for our friends and do the best that we can,” said Arriaza.

Clarkco State Park tells us that at least 30 to 40 families came to the park from Florida to stay in the parks cabins, RV lots, and tents.

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