Utahns worry about families impacted by Hurricane Matthew

Posted at 6:40 PM, Oct 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-07 20:40:01-04

RIVERDALE – People living in Utah who have loved ones living in the path of Hurricane Matthew wait for phone calls and text messages. Others are taking the first flight out to help their families get back on their feet.

Allen Whitfield of Riverdale plans to fly out of the Salt Lake International Airport to Atlanta Friday night, then drive to Titusville, Florida, which is about 35 miles east of Orlando.

That’s where his mother lives. She evacuated Thursday night to a shelter as Hurricane Matthew closed in on Florida. This morning, she sent Allen a text message.

“She has a brother and a sister that are special needs themselves that are in the same shelter, so I know they're all safe, that's the first priority," Whitfield said.

He’s praying damage to her home is minimal. Allen’s mother doesn’t live in Hurricane Matthew’s direct path, but the size of the storm will bring challenges.

“The wind, the rain, the flooding, tornadoes, downed trees, integrity of the roof of her house: These are all things I can't wait to get down there and get eyes on to see what we're dealing with,” he said.

His mother lives in a community near other seniors, many who live alone.

“I've been in touch with friends through Facebook, and through text messages, 'Hey can you go by and check on my parents?' So, we'll certainly do that given the accessibility of the roads,” Whitfield said.

Having lived in Florida for many years, Allen knows firsthand the devastating impacts of hurricanes. With his mother living so far away, and on her own, he’s grateful federal, state and local agencies responded quickly.

“In the early 2000s there were quite a few that came through that area, dad was still alive, so this is her first big one on her own, so it was a little bit more stressful to her and for us," Whitfield said.

If you would like to help those impacted by Hurricane Matthew, The American Red Cross is taking donations.