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Vacationing Hoosiers ride out Hurricane Michael, aftermath in Florida

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Just a day after Hurricane Michael ripped through the Florida Panhandle, Hoosiers are riding out the aftermath of the storm in the Sunshine State. 

One Indianapolis family on Thursday remained in Pensacola, Florida, one of the cities impacted by the hurricane. 

Indianapolis resident Leslie Wells said she wasn’t expecting the company of Hurricane Michael when she booked her family vacation to Pensacola Beach. 

“We had no idea,” Wells said. “My husband was coming down the elevator in the condo, and some guy on the elevator was like ‘So, are you gonna stay for the hurricane?’ We were like ‘Sorry, what?’” 

Wells, a former producer at WISH-TV, spoke to News 8 via Facetime on Thursday. 

She said the weather had calmed down from the fury 36 hours earlier. 

“I think the unknown leading up to it made us nervous,” Wells said. “Because, when you looked at it on a map, you looked at it and had it continued on its path, it was heading straight for us. So, we were really putting a lot of stock in that turn.” 

Wells, her husband, two kids and extended family rode out the storm on the 15th floor of their beachside condo. 

“We didn’t know how to prepare,” Wells said. “So, we got some extra milk and did the Hoosier thing of milk, bread and eggs and we just prepared as best we could!” 

The family hunkered down as Pensacola got the outer bands of the storm. The city was spared when Michael took a last minute turn. 

“It wasn’t even the rain so much as the wind that really kind of shocked us,” Wells said. “We’re Hoosiers, we don’t do hurricanes. We know what to do in a tornado or in a snowstorm. In a hurricane, we don’t know what that’s like.” 

Wells said had the storm not taken the turn, the family would have been forced to stay and ride out the Category 4 hurricane as the only bridge off the beach would have been shut down.

“I think, especially in Indiana, where we don’t know anything about this, we can sit and say ‘Why didn’t those people leave? Why didn’t they evacuate? That’s crazy. I wouldn’t have done this. I would have done that.’ So, you don’t have a lot of options, and there are people who can’t afford to evacuate. So, it kind of gives you a new perspective on why people make the choices they make and not everybody is staying because they want to ride out a hurricane. It’s not always a want, sometimes they have to stay.”

While Wells said she and her family feel lucky, the devastation just down the Florida coast is where she hopes the focus will remain. 

“We want to keep in mind while it’s a neat memory for us and it’s an interesting vacation story, just two hours down the road it’s somebody else’s tragedy,” Wells said. “It’s interesting for us, but for them it’s their lives they have to pick up.” 

While some Hoosiers are looking to get back home, others are headed to Florida. 

Noblesville resident Scott Greg is a native of Panama City. 

He is taking donations of nonperishable items back to Florida. Greg plans to leave Saturday morning to go to Panama City. You can drop off items at the Hamilton Town Center, 13901 Town Center Blvd. in Noblesville, until 9 p.m. Friday.