'We wish we were in Maine': Mainers in Florida waiting out the storm

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Irma made its way into Florida on Sunday as some transplants from Maine rode out the storm in their homes or drove for hours to Georgia or Mississippi to avoid the storm’s wrath.

Mike Renaud, formerly of Bethel and now living in Brooksville, Florida, went to the Edgewater Inn in Biloxi, Miss.

“An engineer told me our manufactured home can withstand 50-60 mph winds. They are calling for 90-100 mph tropical storm winds. I passed math. I left,” Renaud said.

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John Condon, a Buckfield native who lives in Clearwater, said he experienced bumper-to-bumper traffic on his way to Augusta, Ga.

“The drive that should have taken seven hours on a normal day took 12,” he said. “We had to be sure to stop for gas every opportunity that there was as there was no guarantee that there would be fuel at the next station.”

With approximately 6 million people ordered to evacuate, gas wasn’t the only thing that was scarce.

“(I) called 42 hotels from northern Florida to Mississippi and this is the only place I could find that had 2 rooms left,” Renaud said.

Alexis Baxter, who grew up in Bar Harbor, moved to Fort Lauderdale this summer and is riding out the storm in Ocala. She’s house-sitting for her grandmother, who moved to South Carolina on Friday. The movers couldn’t transport her grandmother’s belongings because of the storm.

“Feels a little bit like I fled from a power outage,” she said.

Baxter said what normally should have been a four-hour drive took 12. But as messy as the situation appears to be, Baxter said she is impressed with the way the state has responded.

“The state here prepared better for this hurricane than any I’ve heard of before and took it really seriously, opening up toll roads and reversing traffic. Florida was definitely influenced by Harvey,” she said.

Rick White, a Rumford native who recently moved to Sebastian on the east coast was riding out the storm at his home. He said the storm began to pick up around 5 p.m.

“A screen door has gotten blown out in the Florida room and shingles are starting to get blown off the front of the house,” he said. “We have been in tornado watches pretty much all afternoon.”

John Snowe, originally from Auburn, had an unusual sighting outside his home in Fort Pierce on the east side of the state. He recorded a fish swimming down a golf cart path.

The sight apparently wasn’t enough to make him appreciate the novelty.

“We wish we were in Maine,” Snowe said.

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Chad Daggett reported Monday morning from Orlando that some trees were down and some trash cans were overturned, but he didn’t see real significant damage.

A screen is blown off Rick White’s home in Sebastian, Florida, during Hurricane Irma. White moved to the Sunshine State from Rumford.

Fort Pierce, Florida, was the target of a feeder band from Hurricane Irma that dumped 9 to 10 inches of rain overnight Saturday.

A fish swims down a golf cart path in front of John Snowe’s house in Fort Pierce, Florida, during Hurricane Irma.

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