Muskegon man bracing for Irma in Miami

Heavy traffic on Interstate 75 moves slowly, Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, in Forrest Park, South of Atlanta. A massive evacuation has clogged Florida's major highways. So what they are doing is opening up the shoulders to drivers on Interstate 75 from Wildwood, where the Florida turnpike ends, to the Georgia state line. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

MIAMI (WOOD) — A Muskegon man who now lives in Florida is relying on previous hurricane experience as he prepares for Hurricane Irma.

Tom Smith spoke to 24 Hour News 8 by phone Saturday afternoon. He’s the uncle of a director at WOOD TV.

Smith said he and his wife decided not to evacuate from his south Miami home after seeing the eye of the hurricane shift towards the west side of the state. Despite being in a “Zone B” evacuation zone, he said they dealt with far worse conditions during Hurricane Andrew back in 1992.

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“[It was] 12 to 20 hours of terror. I had neighbors that didn’t prepare and during the eye of the hurricane they were banging on our door, begging us to let them in,” Smith recalled. “The biggest problem with Andrew was the after effect. We had no power at our house for almost four months. Parts of Miami didn’t have power for a year and parts of Miami were never rebuilt after Andrew. It was just so devastated that everybody just left.”

Their house is about 13 feet above sea level, which Smith believes will be high enough to avoid storm surge after the hurricane hits because they’re situated about a mile off the coast.

Smith added his house is hooked up to an automatic generator, they’ve gassed up their cars and stocked their fridge – prepared to be without power by mid-Sunday. He’d rather stay put than risk evacuating to an area that ends up in the middle of Irma’s path.

“The problem with being on the tip of the state is you don’t know where to go until you know where the hurricane is going to be and by the time you know where the hurricane is going to be, it’s too late to go anywhere. We know people that evacuated to Orlando and Tampa from Miami, from our neighborhood, and now they ran into the hurricane,” Smith said.