DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Many people in northeast Ohio have close connections to Florida and the southeast, and they're watching Hurricane Matthew very closely, hoping their families stay safe.
Cleveland 19 News spoke with several people over FaceTime and on Facebook who are in the region. We checked in on Cleveland 19 reporter Nichole Vrsansky's cousin Samantha Gareau Thursday evening.
She lives near Boca Raton, Florida, right in the path of Hurricane Matthew.
"It's slightly windy, it's not as wet as I thought it's going to be," Gareau said around 5 p.m.
She sent us photos of Deerfield Beach, and hurricane shutters covering the windows of houses in the area. She's in the voluntary evacuation zone and she decided to stay.
"We're born and raised in Florida, we're used to these conditions. We have water, we have our essentials, so we're OK," she said.
We also spoke with Vicki Kocisko, a North Canton native who lives in Port Orange, Florida, south of Daytona Beach.
"So far we've had maybe some rain and some wind go through, but nothing major, nothing we wouldn't see in a typical afternoon thunderstorm," Kocisko said when we spoke with her Thursday evening.
Kocisko says she's as ready for the hurricane as she can be, and she also decided to stay home.
"We have hurricane panels we put up so we're pretty much all set," she said.
Kocisko says people who live right near the beach were ordered to evacuate because once Hurricane Matthew hits, emergency vehicles won't be able to make it over the bridge.
"I'm anxious to see if it's changing course at all, if it's gonna hit us directly or what. Just anxiety, the waiting," she said.
Her parents still live in North Canton and her in-laws are in Northeast Ohio, too.
"Oh yeah, they're watching, they've called. So hopefully I'll have cell service to call them and tell them I survived tomorrow," Kocisko said.
North of Florida in Georgia, evacuations are also underway. Before mandatory evacuations were even ordered, Olivia Brown decided to drive the 12 hours home from Savannah to Akron overnight on Tuesday.
"I brought everything, I even brought my laundry. My mom was like, 'Oh, you're like a typical college student, you brought all your dirty laundry to do,'" Brown said.
Brown goes to the Savannah College of Art & Design and she didn't want to take her chances. She lives right near the beach.
"It's pretty scary to think our dorms, housing around us could all be in jeopardy because of the hurricane," Brown said.
She says most of her friends have moved inland, but she's still worried about them.
Brown may be hundreds of miles away from the eye of the hurricane now, but her heart is in Savannah.
"It's a nice break, but I do hope everyone in Savannah stays safe, everyone affected by the storm because it looks like it's gonna be pretty bad," she said.
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