Fresno native describes moments before Hurricane Irma struck home

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Hurricane Irma ripped through western Florida Sunday, and while the eastern side did not experience the most powerful force of the storm, it still did some major damage.

Fresno native Arlene Lopez moved to Florida with her fiancee back in March. A canal near her palm coast home filled to the top and several branches broke off from nearby trees.

"You could just hear things, branches or just whatever flying into the house hard," Arlene Lopez said. "It just sounds like a brick is being thrown into your house. It was very, very loud."

Lopez and her fiancee boarded up their home before Irma hit their area Sunday afternoon. She says it looks like her home made it through the storm with very little damage.

Lopez wanted to evacuate but by the time she made that decision on Thursday there were no flights out of the area and local highways were already clogged with evacuees trying to leave.

"The way that they were saying the path it was going to go it was going to hit Georgia, the Carolinas and up to Tennessee," she said. "Where are you going to run to you know?"

Many other Florida residents stayed behind. Barry Falke, a Red Cross executive director from Fresno, arrived in Florida on Friday. He says several more volunteers are on their way from California to help Irma victims.

As soon as they arrive they will help nearly 220,000 people in community and Red Cross evacuation centers.

"So we are in the process of coordinating with elected officials and county emergency managers here in central Florida to figure out exactly what a projected long term sheltering needs are based off of those who live in housing," Falke said.
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