FL woman in MI to evade Irma: ‘Just a monster’

West Michigan residents are catching the last flights back to Michigan from Florida to escape Hurricane Irma.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Shari Ameling was among dozens of people at the Ford International Airport on Friday waiting on incoming flights.

But unlike most, her mother’s trip to Michigan was booked last-minute.

Ameling lives in Middleville, but her mother, Susan King, lives in Lake Worth — about an hour north of Miami. King traveled north to escape Florida before Hurricane Irma hits.

“I’ve been there when there have been one and two degree hurricanes. And they’re a little scary but they’re nothing like this,” King said after she got off her flight. “This is just a monster.”

Others, like Greg Yoder, are still waiting to fly north. Yoder is from Hudsonville but in Orlando for a Christian music radio conference. He spoke to 24 Hour News 8 via FaceTime Friday morning.

“We’ve got people from all over the place that are trying to get out of town, trying to get out of dodge,” Yoder said.

He was supposed to stay in Orlando through the weekend and speak at a church on Sunday but the service was canceled.

Yoder happened to score a ticket out of town Saturday afternoon, only hours before the Orlando International Airport plans to shut down over safety concerns.

“I don’t know how I got on that flight. I really don’t,” Yoder said.

Others from West Michigan and in Yoder’s group will have to remain in Florida and wait out the storm before heading home, so he said he is feeling grateful.

Ameling and King share the feeling. The pair will now get some unexpected time together, and most importantly, safety from the storm.
Irma’s full impact has yet to be seen.

“I don’t know, when I go home, what’s gonna be there,” King said.

Yoder will fly in to Chicago first before connecting to Grand Rapids Saturday night. The only direct flights between Grand Rapids and Florida on Friday were cancelled.

People in Florida have advised Yoder to get to the airport in Orlando about five hours ahead of his scheduled departure time, as long lines are expected.