Tampa Residents Displaced to Buffalo Due to Irma

Western New York natives return under unusual circumstances

Mike Baggerman
September 08, 2017 - 4:16 pm

WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) – As Hurricane Irma prepares to make landfall on the mainland United States this weekend, Florida residents were evacuated from their homes, with some forced to come to Buffalo.

One Tampa resident, Nicholas Denmon, returns to Buffalo after living in Tampa for several years.

“They evacuated our zone,” he said. “I’ve got family up here.”

Denmon said his home has impact glass which is typical on newer homes in Tampa. Before he was evacuated, sandbags were placed in front of the lower threshold of his home.

“Make sure you unplug your TV and VCR from the wall,” he said. “I just learned today you’re also supposed to close all the doors in your house because the air inside your house, if a window breaks, acts like a balloon and can blow the roof off. If you shut the doors in each room it can prevent that from happening. We did not do that but looking back I wish we did.”

While Western New Yorkers have little-to-no experience in hurricane preparation, it’s not uncommon for Florida to have seasonal hurricanes. We asked Denmon what made this hurricane different.

“It’s almost like alligators there, you get so used to it,” he said. “We’re still reeling with (Houston) and the national psyche. You have that going on and this thing is something we’ve never seen before coming out of the Atlantic. It’s the most ferocious hurricane we’ve seen I think ever, at least what I’m hearing. It has maximum sustained wind of 185 miles per hour for 36 hours straight which is unheard of. Usually you get dips of 150 or maybe 180 but usually they settle around category three or category four. This has been riding out as a category five for two days straight.”

Denmon said his two-year-old daughter, who was with him at the airport, factored into his decision to get out of the area.

He said just about everyone he knows has been evacuated from Tampa. His brother moved further inland because he lives closer to the water. Denmon was born in Buffalo and grew up in Eden. He has family who lives in the area and during his stay he said he plans to catch Sunday’s Buffalo Bills game.

LISTEN: Eden native Nicholas Denmon on being evacuated from his home in Tampa

Another concerning situation was for Tampa resident Patrick Kelly. Kelly has lived in Tampa for about three and a half years after growing up in Niagara Falls.

“We’ve had a few tropical storms but nothing major,” he said. “I think last year we had something but this is huge. We made sure everything was closed up and brought outside. We don’t want anything flying and hitting our house or our neighbor’s house. We didn’t get a chance to get our windows boarded up so we’ll see what happens.”

Coincidentally, Kelly planned on leaving Tampa for a golf vacation. However, he still had to make adjustments prior to leaving the area and called the last few days “stressful” despite the golf outing.

“My wife is driving to Tallahassee right now and it looks like Tallahassee might get hit too,” he said. “(The storm) might go to the west more or to the east. It’s like a windshield wiper.”

He said bottled water has been difficult to come by at grocery stores but the ones near him communicated well about their bottled water supply. However, gas has been out for the past couple of days.

“When a place has gas it’s packed with cars,” he said.

LISTEN: Niagara Falls native Patrick Kelly on leaving his home in Tampa



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