Hurricane Ida prevents family from coming back home to East Tennessee

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Hurricane Ida is affecting one family who lives here in East Tennessee but was vacationing on the Gulf Coast.

It was supposed to be a fun beach trip for April Sullivan and her family but their time spent near the water was cut short. Now, they’re stuck in their vacation home until it’s safe for them to head back home.

April said, one day there were blue skies, the next heavy clouds.

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. We sat out by the pool, went to the ocean, and had a good day. Friday was a little bit cloudy off and on,” April explained. “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 getting the outer bands of Hurricane Ida.

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

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 RV’s 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.

Kiran Singh Sirah said this started off as a small group of people in East Tennesse and has now expanded 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. That’s really the purpose of the group both for evacuees and for people who want to host.”

He adds 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 that s providing a place to stay or a warm meal.

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

“I don’t like storms I’ve never been in anything like this, I’ve always said that id leaves if I ever was but here I am stuck in it.”

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

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

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