Hurricane Ida prevents family from returning home to East Tennessee


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Hurricane Ida is affecting one family from East Tennessee vacationing at the Gulf Coast.

Sullivan said that the blue skies quickly took a turn as Ida neared.

The Sullivan Family was in the middle of their family vacation when they realized they may have to prolong their stay.

“We got down here on Thursday — a beautiful sunny day,” she said. “We sat out by the pool, went to the ocean and had a good day. Friday was a little bit cloudy off and on. When they started issuing all the warnings, by the time we realized how bad it was, they said we were better off to stay where you are.”

They’re staying in Gulf Shores, Alabama, where the area is under a tropical storm warning and receiving the outer bands of Ida.

“200 miles down the road west of here where the storm is, I can’t imagine how bad it is,” said April. “But for where we are now — we’re safe here.”

In East Tennessee, Facebook groups have been formed to help those trying to evacuate the storm.

“There are people willing to offer their homes, their houses, their guest rooms, their back yards, their space for RVs or whatever; it might be their campgrounds and many people are willing to offer that just for free,” said Kiran Singh Sirah, who’s the co-founder of the Facebook Group Ida evacuation support in East TN/W NC/SW VA.

The group was formed to provide information to match host families in our region with people or families who aren’t able to stay in their homes after a natural disaster.

Sirah said this began as a small group of people in East Tennessee and has now extended across state lines.

“It’s actually not just in our region; it expands quite away, at least a 150-mile radius and so in Knoxville, and all different places,” he said. “That’s really the purpose of the group both for evacuees and for people who want to host.”

He added that the group wants to make it clear that this is not to replace the emergency services and emergency systems but just to assist in any way they can whether it’s providing a place to stay or a warm meal.

Sullivan and her family are not near the brunt of the storm but say it’s a situation they never thought they would be in.

“I don’t like storms; I’ve never been in anything like this,” Sullivan said.

She said they’ll be glad when they can get back home.

They’re supposed to travel to Lenoir City on Monday but may have to prolong their stay depending on how bad the weather gets.

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