Former Utah residents living in Florida speak on Hurricane Irma

Posted at 5:51 PM, Sep 11, 2017

COPPER CITY, Fla. — Florida natives aren't the only ones bracing themselves for Hurricane Irma. Jason Russell and his family moved from Lehi to Copper City, near Fort Lauderdale, a few years ago and spoke with FOX 13 about his experiences with Hurricane Irma.

"This was definitely the first hurricane experience for us," said Jason Russell.

They were expecting a direct hit, but the storm ended up moving west. However, they still saw some pretty extreme conditions.

"Had some strong gusts. I would estimate probably in the 80-90 mile an hour range and trees were definitely bending and buckling," Russell said.

They lost power for 14 hours, but his girls managed to keep themselves busy.

"They were troopers. They just played Battleship and Uno and were on their electronic devices as they could and diverted their attention," Russell said.

FOX 13 spoke with another former Utah resident, Chantel Bean, who just moved to Florida from Salt Lake City seven weeks ago and got quite the welcome from Hurricane Irma.

"I've lived in Utah my entire life and never really had to deal with any kind of natural disasters," Bean said.

Bean and her husband also live near Ft. Lauderdale, but drove to Orlando and stayed in a hotel when they heard about Irma.

"We only booked it through Sunday and then when we were talking to them about extending our stay they were already over booked," Bean said.

Bean said. they had to drive 40 minutes away from Orlando to find an available room.

"It was probably like 1 a.m. when we were trying to go to sleep and the big gusts of wind were like hitting the side of the building and I was just waiting for crashing noises, for things to hit," Bean said.

Both families told FOX 13 the storm wasn't as bad as they expected and the support of family and friends back in Utah lifted their spirits during this uncertain time.

"It’s great having the support of so many in Utah and elsewhere in the US. We knew they were thinking and praying for us and that was a great comfort too," Russell said.