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Former Pictou County resident evacuates ahead of Hurricane Irma

In this geocolor image captured by GOES-16 and released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Hurricane Irma approaches Anguilla on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. The most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history has roared into the Caribbean, its winds ripping off roofs and knocking out phones. It's on a path toward Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba before possibly hitting Florida. (NOAA via AP)
In this geocolor image captured by GOES-16 and released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Hurricane Irma approaches Anguilla on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. The most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history has roared into the Caribbean, its winds ripping off roofs and knocking out phones. It's on a path toward Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba before possibly hitting Florida. (NOAA via AP)

CLEARWATER BEACH, FL – Stacy MacDonald was hoping to stay a final goodbye to Florida in a month without having to live through another hurricane.

The former Pictou native, who is planning to return to the county in November, said she will be evacuating her home Friday in anticipation of Hurricane Irma which is expected to hit the state Friday evening.

“I am going to head up to Jacksonville,” she said. “ I know a dog breeder up there that has offered me a place to stay. I am not going anywhere without my dogs.”

As she finished up her workday Wednesday, she said the air was still and humid with a high temperature of 35 Celsius. She will be heading back to Nova Scotia in November and had hoped to live the two months without much chaos, but all signs are pointing to Irma wreaking havoc on her Clearwater home.

“Normally there is a breeze, but today there is not a breath of wind,” she said.

Forecasters are warning Irma could slam headlong into the Miami metropolitan area of 6 million people, cover the entire length of the state's Atlantic coast and push on into Georgia and South Carolina.

Irma has reached winds as high as 175 mph (281 kph).

MacDonald, who works in a registered nurse in homecare in Clearwater, said she has worked through both Hurricane Ike and Tropical Storm Allison when she was previously working in Texas hospitals.

Ike caused her home considerable wind damage, while Allison flooded the hospital she was working in, forcing it to be evaluated.
“This is a little different for me because I do home care now and I am not required to be at work,” she said, adding many of her clients already have made arrangements to evaluate the area. “If we are under a mandatory evacuation, we have to go.  A lot of people have left today.  People are really nervous after Hurricane Harvey.”

She said Florida Govenor Rick Scott has taken the threat of Irma very seriously and has been evacuating areas for the past four days.

“Traffic has been back-to-back for a few days,” she said. “It is bumper-to-bumper on the I-75.  All of the tolls on roads are lifted and special needs patients have already been moved to shelters.”

MacDonald said after she finished work Thursday, she would go home to board up her house and hit the road.

“I’ve got it all pre-cut for everything,” she said. “We haven’t been able to buy water in this town for three days.  You to go Publix and there is no water, no toilet paper, batteries or flashlights.  As soon as it’s put on the shelves, people take it.”

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