Published 6:42 pm Saturday, September 9, 2017

Tallahassee, Fla. residents set up camp at Wind Creek in Atmore

Sitting in the shadow of their Scenic Cruiser in the parking lot of Wind Creek Casino and Hotel, Heikki and Barbara Agge are thankful they’ve been in Atmore before.

The Tallahassee, Fla. residents have fled from their home state because of Hurricane Irma. Irma’s outer bands have encompassed the southern half of Florida, according to the National Weather Service’s Tropical Atlantic Visible Loop satellite imagery.

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For the past several days, Gov. Rick Scott has kept residents informed of the coming storm, and some 6.5 million people have evacuated the state already, according to reports.

For Heikki and Barbara, the trip from Tallahassee wasn’t all that bad. They said it took about five hours to get to Atmore.

“There were some pockets of congestion,” Barbara said. “All of the rest areas were all packed. They even added a dozen port-o-potties at one rest area, and there was almost nowhere to park. You had to just kind of squeeze in.”

Heikki and Barbara are retired, but are state park volunteers in Florida.

Heikki, who is a Finland native, said he was able to drive the distance from Tallahassee in good time.

“There were some signs that we were going to slow down a little bit,” he said. “I was able to drive the speed that I wanted to drive.”

Barbara said plans to evacuate spanned a couple days.

“Every night, you wake up the next morning and check the weather, and it’s taken a turn,” she said. “First it was going up the east and then they had all of those models, and then it goes up the center. Now, it’s going up the west side.”

NWS tracking models indicate that Hurricane Irma is still poised to head north through Florida into Georgia.

This isn’t the first time Heikki and Barbara have been to Atmore because of a storm.

Last year, the couple fled and camped out in Atmore when Hurricane Hermine hit.

As far as this year, Barbara said they plan on staying for as long as they need.

“The hurricane’s going to hit the northern part of Florida and here on Monday, so we’ll either head out further west or stay until Tuesday morning,” she said.