Families turn evacuations into vacations in the Tampa Bay area

Polk County

As Hurricane Florence hits the Carolina coast, many evacuees are flocking to the Tampa Bay area.

The Jackson family boarded up their house in Hilton Head, South Carolina, packed their van with their three girls and all of their belongings, and drove to the Legoland Resort in Winter Haven.

“When I was 6-years-old, I went through Hurricane Hugo in South Carolina. I distinctly remember our family just being stuck inside, in a little hallway, listening to a weather radio and it being a little nerve wracking,” former WFLA employee Holly Jackson said. 

Jackson, her husband and their three girls are turning the evacuation into a vacation.

“If we can be out and enjoy the outside, the parks, the restaurant, Legoland and stuff like that, then we decided we would do that,” Jackson said.

Their home in Hilton Head could get hit with strong winds, rain, flooding and storm surge.

“The governor came on earlier this week and said it was a mandatory evacuation, so everyone starts packing up and starts to leave, and then the next day he says, ‘I’m going to reverse that order you don’t have to leave, it’s kind of taken a turn.’ The storm has been so strange. We think it goes one way and it just continues to change its path. So then I think it was yesterday the sheriff said, ‘if you can leave, have the means, the capabilities, please leave, go to Georgia, go to Florida,’ and we said, ‘yeah we’ll do that,'” Jackson said.

“We have a lot of trees around the house and we’ve seen in the past trees have fallen with past hurricanes,” Brian Jackson said.

He said they are praying for the best and are thankful to be safe. 

“I’ve got small kids and my wife, and I just want to make sure they’re safe. That’s what’s most important to us. So just want to make sure they’re safe and we can replace the house.”

The family plans to head home sometime this weekend.

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