Hurricane Ian evacuees flee to IP Casino Resort Spa

Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 10:12 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The IP Casino Resort Spa is getting extra visitors, like Ross Baker.

“I am in Palm Meadow, which is south of Clear Water Tampa, north of Bradenton,” said Baker.

Baker is one of the Floridians who escaped the deadly Hurricane Ian -- his first hurricane since moving to Florida two years ago -- and booked a room at the hotel.

As he puts it, both optimism and fear of the unknown are running through his mind.

“I hope I have a home to go back to. It may be under water right now, don’t know. Everything I’ve seen right now; it’s gone south of us. I don’t know if that’s any better,” said Baker.

Both he and his roommate fled Florida on Tuesday morning with a few of their things. Even though the drive was 12 hours, Baker was relieved to see Hurricane relief.

“While we were leaving, we saw a least four to five hundred bucket and boom trucks driving in. So, it seems like they’re getting a lot of help sent that way,” said Baker.

West Florida needs all the help it can get between major flooding, power outages and winds up to 150 miles per hour.

Baker said he’s not ready to return to what he’s about to see and what’s no longer there.

“I’m not prepared for it, no. I don’t want to lose all my stuff, all my things. But that is the potential of living close to water,” said Baker.

Even though there’s a risk of living close to water, Baker says Florida’s resiliency overcomes it.

“Florida carries some baggage, but there are some really good people there. They’ll bounce back just like New Orleans did.”

Officials said there’s a handful of guests from Florida staying at the hotel.

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