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“People are nervous” - Norwich man in Florida prepares for arrival of Hurricane Irma

PUBLISHED: 09:10 09 September 2017 | UPDATED: 12:42 09 September 2017

Samuel and Meredith Hustler are preparing for Hurricane Irma to hit in Wellington, Florida. Picture: Samuel Hustler

Samuel and Meredith Hustler are preparing for Hurricane Irma to hit in Wellington, Florida. Picture: Samuel Hustler

Archant

As Hurricane Irma tears its way towards the mainland of the United States, one former Norwich man near Palm Beach in Florida admitted “we are very nervous today”.

On 7 September in Haiti, children and women wade through a street in Hinche as Hurricane Irma approaches. Picture: UNICEFOn 7 September in Haiti, children and women wade through a street in Hinche as Hurricane Irma approaches. Picture: UNICEF

While much of his neighbourhood has been evacuated, 32-year-old Samuel Hustler is staying in Wellington with wife Meredith, 30, who is a vet at the nearby Palm Beach Equine Clinic and wants to ensure the 12 horses in their care are safe.

It will be the first time Mr Hustler has lived through a hurricane, and he said the time for escaping the path of the storm is now gone as they stand directly in Irma’s path.

“We are far enough away from the coast to avoid flooding or storm surge but the wind is our main concern,” he said. “Today the police have been going around with loudspeakers on their vehicles doing an evacuation and are recommending anyone who lives near the ocean should leave.

“My wife is a vet for horses and works for Palm Beach Equine Clinic, and they are full of horses right now. She wants to be within distance of the clinic. They have 22 horses which are all going to stay throughout the storm.

While roads have been gridlocked, Mr Hustler said there is no point trying to leave.

“We don’t really have an exit any more - with the storm heading straight up the spine of Florida there is nowhere to go,” he said.

“We are very nervous today. There is no possibility the storm will be anything less than a Category Four when it reaches Miami, and that is stronger than I am comfortable with. We have boarded up our windows and got the storm shutters on the back and front. We have done everything we can do.

“A lot of our friends and colleagues have left. We did note most of the people who have left are not Floridians and people who have lived here a long time, particularly those who lived here in 1992 through Hurricane Andrew are staying - and that has given us some comfort.

“People are nervous. Today the roads seemed a lot quieter and there is definitely an air of tension, particularly because we have never been in a hurricane before.

“The worry is this is a bit bigger than people have seen in their lifetime. We are here to help each other out, and we are all just crossing our fingers.”

Winds are expected to reach up to 50mph in Florida on Saturday before the bulk of Hurricane Irma makes landfall early on Sunday morning.

UNICEF has issued an appeal for aid as huge swathes of the Caribbean have been devastated in the storm. To donate visit unicef.uk/edp.

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