“Everyone was like, ‘Oh, thank god,’ and now it’s like, ‘Holy crap, this is going to hit right where we’re staying.”
Daniel Snow boards up his home ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Irma in Tampa.
Chris Wattie / Reuters
Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert stood in the White House press briefing room on Friday and told reporters that if Hurricane Irma were to move westward up the Florida coast, that would be the nightmare scenario.
"I guess maybe worst-case scenario is if it dips down, moves west, and curls around to the other side of the state," Bossert said. "Because right now, it's my belief that people haven't been planning for that."
Now, a day later, that's exactly what's happening.
After days of fears that Miami and the eastern Florida coast would endure the full force of the historic storm, Saturday's forecasts predicted Irma was now moving west and would instead drift up the Gulf Coast, striking the cities of Naples, Fort Myers, and Tampa most directly.
Alyssa Candelmo, a 19-year-old who lives in Bonita Springs between Naples and Fort Myers, said she, her parents, and her 82-year-old grandmother had made plans to "ride it out" when it seemed like the brunt of Irma would be felt on the other side of the state.
But the mood shifted on Saturday morning once it was forecasted that the massive storm was headed directly to them.
"Everyone was like, ‘Oh, thank god,' and now it’s like, 'Holy crap, this is going to hit right where we’re staying,'" she told BuzzFeed News.
Candelmo said that they "might" be able to evacuate still, but she doesn't know if her family plans to, citing a concern over a lack of gas and of traveling with her elderly grandmother.
Gov. Rick Scott urged those in evacuation zones in western counties to evacuate late afternoon Saturday.
"If you're in Collier County or Lee County and you know there is going to be 15 feet of storm surge, and you're in an evacuation zone, I'm pleading with you, for your life, I'm pleading with you, to go to a shelter," he said.