East coast evacuees on Fort Myers Beach waiting out Dorian

Reporter: Sydney Persing Writer: Jack Lowenstein

A lot of people from the east coast of the state are not waiting to find out where Hurricane Dorian will end up, so they came over to the beaches of Southwest Florida to wait it out here, as the new models continue to keep our area out of the cone.

Many evacuees spent time on Fort Myers Beach Saturday. Earlier this week, hotel employees told us many cancelled reservations. But rooms are filling back up, with new projections keeping the storm’s cone away from Southwest Florida.

“My wife, we made the reservation,” Jimmy Smith said. “I haven’t seen her any happier in my life except for when we got married.”

When Smith and his wife evacuated West Palm Beach, they headed straight for Fort Myers Beach.

“We’re gonna have a nice place to stay,” Smith said. ‘And we’re gonna be on the beach, and we’re just gonna relax and make it a vacation.”

That’s a vacation away from long gas lines and empty water shelves.

“People were saying, ‘Well, why are you going there? It’s going all the way across the state,’” Smith said. “And, you know, we thought we’d be better here than over there.”

And the promising shift in Dorian’s track has allowed man to continue their Labor Day weekend plans.

“To continue our Labor Day party that we were planning on Monday,” Smith said. “We had canceled it, so I think we might have it now … Nothing will spoil my Labor Day plans, nothing.”

Still, Lee County officials are urging patience before the party.

“It could do something that we’ve seen in the past, like a 90-degree turn in the eleventh hour,” said Roger Desjarlais, Lee County Manager. “We have the ability to pull that trigger quickly if we need to ramp back up based on any sudden changes in that forecast.”

While it may look like Southwest Florida is mostly clear, it is important to remain vigilant and continue to have an emergency plan, monitoring Dorian and the continued Atlantic hurricane season, which runs through November 30.

Smith said he will watch for any changes, as he enjoys some of last days of summer.

“We have friends that are riding it out right now,” Smith said. “And all we can do is say we wish them the best.”

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