When Jenny Park-Gomez of Homestead, Fl., heard the words “this storm makes (Hurricane) Andrew look like a baby,” she decided it was time to pack up the family and drive north to her grandparents’ old home in Columbus. She was paying attention to every detail being reported on Hurricane Irma.
Her sister Dana Hudson of the coastal town St. Mary’s, Ga., who is married with six children, decided they didn’t need to wait any longer and risk heavy traffic and gas shortages. Park-Gomez and Hudson’s parents, Becky and Larry Griffin of Brunswick, Ga., were under mandatory evacuation orders by Glynn County officials. After seeing the victims of Hurricane Harvey stranded on rooftops waiting to be rescued, Becky Griffin knew where her family would be safe. So three generations, from 18 months to 61 years old, gathered in the home where Griffin grew up.
The extended family often visit friends and relatives in Columbus and stays in the house. It’s still furnished and decorated as it was in 2012 when Becky Griffin’s parents died. The grandchildren play in the same yard Griffin played in. She keeps her father’s garden alive.
Becky Griffin said they all felt less anxious about Hurricane Irma knowing that if their homes were destroyed, they would have a place to live together. Although the three families have learned none of their homes sustained significant damage, they plan to stay in Columbus until it’s safe to return. Flooding, power outages, and water and sewer problems remain major challenges throughout Florida and parts of southeast Georgia.
“This is homestead,” Becky Griffin said. “It’s a safe place for us here. It gives us serenity”