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Evacuation stories Part 2: Family reunion

POSTED: September 11, 2017 8:22 a.m.
Photo courtesy Natalie Jacobs/

Jeremy Jacobs is greeted by his wife Natalie and four children at Savannah International Airport Thursday, being able to come home in time to evacuate because of Irma.

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After posting our story Sunday documenting decisions by local residents to leave or stay in the wake of Irma, we heard from additional folks who wanted to tell their story.

Here they are in their own words ...

"My name is Natalie Jacobs and my husband is Jeremy. The week of Sept. 4 Jeremy was heading home from deployment. I was watching hurricane Irma closely and realized that we may need to evacuate, with or without Jeremy.

"As the hurricane continued to approach the U.S., the threat increased in the Richmond Hill area, so our four kids and I started to prepare for the worst by cleaning up the house, filling gas tanks, and buying essentials at the store.

"We were preparing to evacuate while Jeremy was still in flight back to the U.S. During Jeremy's 72 hours straight of travel, I planned as well as I could to figure out if he would make it back to us or if we would have to make it to wherever he got into the U.S.

"I had come up with approximately five scenarios: hotel reservations in Northern Georgia, traveling by flight with a friend to Tennessee, to drive up Jeremy once he was in the U.S., another to fly and meet at a different destination, and the last to stay with friends in Augusta.

"As the week went by and our evacuation timeline got closer, we were hoping and praying he would make it back in time to go with us.

"He was able to make it home on Thursday night just before midnight. He had approximately 30 hours at home before we headed out for the Georgia mountains.

"We are just happy to be together as a whole family. As we watch the storm traveling through Florida, we are thankful we decided to evacuate even though Jeremy would love nothing more than to be in our home at this point."

Brave surprise

Pam Shuman tells us: "So, I have a son at Kennesaw State who turned 21 on Aug. 28 and my husband had a birthday on Sept. 8. I decided to surprise them with tickets to a (Atlanta) Braves game.

"We already had plans to go to Kennesaw to celebrate my son's birthday, but no one knew about the game. Then comes Hurricane Irma.

"We had plans to leave Saturday morning, but with the mandatory evacuation and already seeing traffic at a standstill on I-95, I had to spoil the surprise about the game and tell my husband so that I could talk him into leaving Friday night.

"I wanted to make sure that we made it to Atlanta in time since I had $250 worth of Braves tickets.

"We left Richmond Hill at 11p.m. Friday night and avoided I-95 by going back roads as far as we could until we could get on I-16. We made it to Kennesaw at 4 a.m.

"I only had reserved a room for Saturday night since that was the original plan and of course, no more rooms were to be had, so we slept at my son's apartment on chairs, floor and couch.

"Found out next day that Atlanta Braves was offering free game tickets to hurricane evacuees. Great gesture, but wow, I already spent $250 on tickets.

"Decided to come back to Richmond Hill Sunday after (the) storm decided to make its way through Atlanta. Everyone had a great time at the beautiful Suntrust Park. BRAVES WON!

"Now, hoping for the best as we ride out the storm at home."

Long, but memorable trip

From Starr Mason: "We evacuated on Friday, my husband is military and even though south Bryan County where we live was under mandatory evacuation, so was the military base.

"Me, my husband, three children, two dogs, a kitten and a bearded dragon all packed up into two vehicles set off on I-95 early Friday afternoon

"We made plans to go to our hometown in northern North Carolina and visit family. It is normally a 5 1/2 hour drive, but it ended up taking us 11 hours!

"It took us three hours to just go 30 miles on I-95. We ended up on back roads once we got to South Carolina. Every small town we drove through was packed with police lining the streets pulling cars over.

"People fighting over gas pumps.

"We drove through so many cotton fields that I lost count. We didn't have cell phone reception most of the time and got lost a few times on the roads in the middle of nowhere.

"We had a few deer run out in front of us. The headlights in one of our vehicles went out one by one, always in a small town that didn't have a parts store or either after the stores closed.

"It may have not been a very interesting trip to some, but for our family it was definitely memorable. Hopefully the trip back to Richmond Hill is a lot easier.

"Hope all of y'all are safe."

See original story "Irma evacuation decision not an easy one for Bryan County residents" here.

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