Florida retiree staying with family in Irma zone


PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WOLF) -- A lot of family members here in Pennsylvania are keeping tabs on relatives in Florida.

One of our colleagues here at FOX56 has been worried about her 84-year-old mom, who comes from Scranton and now lives in South Florida.

Her mother ended up going with relatives, but now it turns out she may be even closer to the eye of the hurricane.

Linda Greenwald has been watching the weather forecast on TV all day on Saturday, hoping for the best for her mom, Carol Jacobs.

Jacobs' cousin picked her up a couple days ago, when it looked like the storm would ride up the east coast of Florida. On Saturday, the track changed.

"I was concerned that she went from the east coast to the west coast, because now it's heading toward the west coast of Florida," says Greenwald.

"The skies are getting grayer. We see the palm trees really starting to blow around," says Florida resident Larry Rothenberg.

Greenwald's cousin said it was still sunny, but the weather was starting to change when we talked around 6 p.m. on Saturday.

"We have some neighbors here now. We're playing canasta. They're drinking wine. I'm trying to keep everybody's spirits up. That keeps them from watching the weather channel and everybody getting nervous," says Rothenberg.

They have a special metal covering that goes across the door and "hurricane windows" there in Bonita Springs.

"Her building is older. His building is much newer. He's in a high point in his development, and he has hurricane windows as well, which she did not have," says Greenwald.

"Plenty of food. We have batteries. We have flashlights. We have plenty of drinking water. We filled our bathtub up with water in case we need to flush toilets if there's no water," says Rothenberg.

They're expecting the electricity to go out, and have two cars safe inside the garage, including an electric car that's charged and the other with extra gas. He has a grill to cook outside once the rain stops.

"We didn't want to get on the road. The gas stations are out of gas, even though we have gas. I think it would be far more dangerous to be on the road and get stuck on the side of the road, out of gas," says Rothenberg. "We saw the pictures from Houston. The shelters themselves had several feet of water, people on cots. I didn't think it would be good for my wife. I didn't think it would be good for my cousin."

Rothenberg says he saw two- or three-block lines when he went to pick up Jacobs -- a onetime Channel 22 employee who appeared on-air -- on the east coast, but things were better at his local gas station.

"We made our decision and this is it. We can't change our plans in the middle. It would be too dangerous," says Rothenberg.

He just moved there full-time in December.

"So is this your first hurricane experience?" we asked. "Absolutely. It could be my last! We'll see what happens," says Rothenberg.

"She's inland and she's in a safe building and she's with family and I really feel like they're just going to be able to ride the storm out and I'm hoping for the best," says Greenwald.

Rothenberg says they're about 10 miles inland, so they won't have to deal with storm surge.

Greenwald says some of her other cousins in Florida did have to evacuate because they were on the bay, in a mandatory evacuation zone.

Now, they are expecting the hurricane to continue through the night and the day on Sunday.

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