PARMA, Ohio – As Hurricane Dorian batters the Bahamas, residents of coastal Florida watch and pray that the storm will begin to follow its projected path, dealing them only a glancing blow.
Ohioans with loved ones who could be in the storm’s path, meanwhile, are nervously watching. Some of them are welcoming transplanted Ohio natives home to the Buckeye state.
Mary Kay Cutlip, of Massillon, was at the Akron-Canton Airport on Monday to welcome her brother who was flying home from West Palm Beach.
“He has medical issues and he wanted to get out. And he’s afraid that the storm is going to be bad and he might not handle it,” Cutlip said.
Her brother, Richard Vantilburg was coming home to Ohio to stay anyway, but his daughter wanted to make sure to get him on a flight ahead of the storm.
“No, I really didn’t want to be there, but if I had to be, I would,” Vantilburg said.
Spirit Airlines flights to and from Orlando from the Akron-Canton Airport on Monday were canceled because of weather.
Avon Lake native Kym Velezquez moved to Orlando in 2017 and said store shelves there are already bare, some selling out of items like bread. To the north in Jacksonville, Ohio native John Bradford was also closely watching the forecast already having made his evacuation plans.
“We’ll typically look at how the storm is heading so we will either head west or head north. Our prior years,we have gone to either Atlanta or Dothan to get away from the storm,” Bradford said.
Bradford has already made reservations at a hotel in Atlanta in case he does need to leave.
“Every day it changes. So I typically look at 48, 72 hours out and decide what we are going to do at that point,” he added.
Here in Ohio, others are preparing to do what they can to help the people who are directly impacted by the storm.
Mario Innocenzi last collected contributions at his Parma Barbershop on Broadview Road for Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and the outpouring was overwhelming. Starting at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Innocenzi will begin collecting donations for victims of Dorian.
“Diapers, adult and children diapers, canned goods, non perishable goods. Things that kids are going to need in the shelters. There’s going to be kids from who knows where all over Florida to the Carolinas in shelters,” Innocenzi said.
His last effort, as documented on FOX 8 News, collected enough contributions to fill a 3,000 square foot space next door to his barber shop.
Innocenzi said he knows first hand how hurricanes can impact a community after he rode one out in Florida in 2004.
“Biggest mistake we ever made. It devastated our neighborhood in Kissimmee. Houses were totally ripped apart. Thank God our roof just got damaged a little bit,” he said.
Innocenzi said the area was without power for an extended period of time and many people had to stay in shelters, where he knows what he collects will be welcomed.
A Mario’s Barber Shop GoFundMe page has also been created to help with the cost of fuel and other expenses to deliver the contributions.
7526 Broadview Rd., Parma