HEFFLEY LAKE, B.C. — Bodie Shandro is home safe from Florida, but he can't stop watching CNN, still very much worried about friends still affected in the Florida Keys and Virgin Islands by Hurricane Irma.
"They're without water, without power, there's not a palm tree left standing on the island. Houses completely obliterated. It's dire right now," said Shandro, who was in Florida for a stand-up paddle convention.
The trip also served as a 30th anniversary getaway for Bodie and wife Brenda. But it became apparent quickly when they arrived last Monday in the Florida Keys that the hurricane threat was real.
"Woke up the next morning and it started becoming apparent that there was more seriousness to this than we had thought," he said.
After one day at the tip of the Florida Keys, they slowly made their way north, stopping at Islamorada two hours away.
"The next morning, we awoke to a mandatory visitor evacuation. 7 a.m. and everybody's out," said Bodie. "We're clearing the island, it's mandatory of all visitors to the Florida Keys. 6 a.m. we're on the road. Literally took us four times the usual amount of time to cover the same distance. It was bumper to bumper traffic on a single-lane highway."
Fuel was a concern getting out for everyone, and with mile long line-ups, the Shandros didn't know if they would get out. But they managed to get fuel, albeit boat gas, to get them to Orlando for the convention, which was shortened to just one day on Friday. The priority quickly became going home.
"We went through the show, but then immediately we're on the phone trying to get out," noted Bodie, who said the hurricane was in the path towards Orlando at the time. "We heard the Orlando International Airport was going to be closing down on Saturday afternoon. Everything south of us was already shut down."
Luckily, they departed on the second-to-last flight out of Orlando, flying to New York en route to Vancouver and Kamloops, arriving back at Heffley Lake on Sunday.
While Bodie's happy to be home to the calm of Heffley, he can't help but think of those friends still being impacted by Irma.
"We've already made donations online to reputable companies. Right now, I think it's financial contributions and petitions that are encouraging government agencies to get in there and help these people that are stranded."
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