‘When Florida people start leaving, it’s time to go’: Man describes fleeing Tampa ahead of Ian

Tyler Bates is thankful to be staying with friends in Charlotte after fleeing Tampa on Monday.
Tyler Bates has lived in Tampa for three years. This is the first storm he has decided to evacuate.
Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 6:19 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Floridians are traveling north as Hurricane Ian hits their state, and some are choosing to seek shelter in the Carolinas.

Tyler Bates is thankful to be staying with friends in Charlotte after fleeing Tampa on Monday.

He made a pit stop to his hometown of Columbia on the way.

“We got a message from Tampa government saying you gotta evacuate around 2 p.m.,” Bates said. “When Florida people start leaving, it’s time to go.”

He lives right on the water, so he brought most of his valuable items with him. The team managing his apartment also instructed everyone to remove items from balconies, unplug electronics and empty refrigerators.

“I could come back home to nothing and have to relocate, but there’s not too much as a human I can do about nature,” he said. “I just have to hope for the best.”

He said he’s not sure how long he will be in Charlotte.

“Not sure, I guess we gotta wait two days to see how the storm is gonna hit,” he said. “Who knows, could be here for three weeks, maybe even longer.”

For now he is watching what’s happening online and staying optimistic.

“I hope everybody that decided to stay is very safe when I get back,” he said. “[I have] never evacuated before, I usually just ride it out, but not taking any chances with this one.”

Related: Charlotte Motor Speedway opens campground to storm evacuees