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Richmond family drives to Florida to rescue 93-year-old from Irma's path

Published: Sep. 8, 2017 at 3:45 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2017 at 5:44 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - There is a mad dash to get out of Florida and coastal Georgia as evacuees travel to escape Irma's path. The traffic is only getting worse as evacuees race against the clock to beat landfall.

A Richmond family was able to navigate the heavy traffic in order to rush their 93-year-old loved one to safety.

It was a 14-hour drive to Fort Myers, Fla., which is some 900 miles south of Richmond. A family was determined to get their aging loved one out of harm's way.

If you ask 93-year-old Janet Prior, this really wasn't necessary.

"I said, 'No, don't come. I'm not coming,'" Prior said.

"You didn't want to come?" NBC 12 asked.

"No. I was OK," she said.

Her son and granddaughter felt differently, knowing their elderly loved one lives in a nursing home in Fort Myers. Hurricane Irma is eying Florida and is predicted to make a devastating hit.

"If it's flooded and they can't get to them, she's in a retirement community only so many people are going to evacuated first. How can you get food to that many people? I mean, it's a huge facility," said Jessica Page, who was concerned about her grandmother.

Then there's the fact that Prior uses a breathing machine.

"Even if she was physically safe, if the power goes out, she needs it to sleep at night," Page added.

The family loaded up an RV and left Richmond on Tuesday evening to pick her up. It wasn't easy.

"We would see pockets of traffic and just dead stop, and then it would go and then dead stop. That was northbound. We were going southbound. As I saw traffic building up, I'd say, 'Get out on this road' and we'd reroute," Page said.

When they got there, they started searching for gas.

"I drove around for half an hour looking for gas. There was no gas in Fort Myers," Page said.

Plus, they were racing the clock to get back to Virginia.

"We felt such an urgency to get out of Florida ahead of the wave of evacuees. I was just really concerned that it was going to turn into a parking lot," David Prior said.

With careful navigation and a lot of patience, they made it back Thursday evening.

Despite her initial reluctance, the 93-year-old says she is grateful for her family's help.

"I'm thankful for David for getting us out of here," Janet Prior said.

"Well, you don't want to have your family stuck in something like what's going on in Houston right now if you can get them out. We were able to do this, so we did," David Prior added.

The family has not decided when the 93-year-old will go back to Florida. For now, they're just glad she's out of the eye of the storm.

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