Irma evacuees flee with what’s most precious: Their lives

What do you bring from a home, from a life, you may never be able to go back to? CNN spoke with several Hurricane Irma evacuees to see what they brought, and what was left behind.

Beth Martinic and Ollie Vollger

The Miami Beach family is taking refuge at Falcon Cove Middle School in Weston, Florida. Their daughter, Ivy, turns 3 months old on Saturday.

“It will be a memorable one,” Martinic says of the milestone.

They decided to evacuate in the middle of the night on Thursday, leaving most of their belongings behind.

“We planned to ride out the storm at home with our parents, but once they updated (with) a more severe impact to Miami, we decided to not take any risks,” she says. “We wanted to get here before the shelter got crowded.”

They brought food and water in addition to diapers for Ivy. They grabbed what family photos and “irreplaceable keepsake memories” they could to save from the hurricane’s wrath.

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Debbie Gadoury

The Gadoury family, from Nokomis, Florida, is evacuating: five adults, two toddlers, three dogs and one cat. They left their home at 7 p.m. Thursday and made it to Georgia, where they’ll be staying the next few days.

“We could only take about one change of clothes each,” she said. “We had to leave everything; we had to have room for the kids’ things and the animal things.”

Leaving their home was a tough decision, but they knew, given the magnitude of the storm, that they had to.

“All of a sudden, even my old pictures and other important things that I have carried with me from home to home didn’t quite matter as much,” she said, describing how she had to put it out of her mind.

As for their neighbors, who did not evacuate: “I don’t know if we will see them again. It breaks my heart.”

Olga Espiritu

The Espiritu family moved to Cooper City, Florida, only a month ago. Irma will be the first hurricane these new Floridians weather.

“We don’t trust our roof,” she said. “Don’t want to take any chances with babies in the house.”

They brought food and water, their important documents and some air mattresses to the Weston, Florida, shelter.

“(I) had to drop off my dog with my realtor because we don’t know anyone else,” she said.

The Espiritu home isn’t just a place they lay their heads at night; they didn’t just leave their possessions.

“We work from home,” she said, describing what they left behind. “So, basically, our livelihood and all new furniture and belongings from our recent move.”

Emily Rivers-Paseta

It’s a short drive from Fort Lauderdale to Orlando, but it’s not going to put the Rivers-Paseta family out of Hurricane Irma’s path.

They packed up their animals and 1-year-old, in addition to a week’s worth of supplies.