TIFTON, Ga. – Everett and Jeannette Bruner heeded the Hurricane Charley (search) evacuation warnings, left their home in Ocala, Fla., and headed north to Georgia to wait out the storm.
Like many of the evacuees who filled south Georgia motels along Interstate 75, the Bruners wondered if they would have a home to go back to once the hurricane passes.
"You've left everything there," said Jeannette Bruner. "It could be a life changing experience. You could be left with nothing. Of course, you have each other."
The Bruners, retirees from Walled Lake, Mich., settled in Ocala, in north-central Florida, three years ago.
"I've never been part of a hurricane before, living in Michigan" said Bruner, 61. "I don't want to be a part of it now."
While the Bruners and other evacuees waited in Tifton, 60 miles north of the Florida line, convoys of utility repair trucks streamed southward on the interstate, a major tourist route from the Midwest to Florida.
Many of the evacuees said they planned to return Saturday.
They complimented Florida officials for an orderly evacuation. In 1999, millions of Floridians, vacationers and residents of the Georgia coast jammed roads in southern Georgia to escape Hurricane Floyd. Churches and communities set up emergency shelters and still some had to drive hundreds of miles inland to find a motel vacancy.
Joseph and Carol Kurilec, Cleveland, spent Thursday night in Tifton with their son and daughter-in-law, Barbara and Joseph Kurilec of Berea, Ohio, after the mandatory evacuation of Sanibel Island, near Fort Myers, forced them to cut their vacation short by four days. Charley made a slight turn Friday toward the Fort Myers area.
"They told us the water would flood the condo," said Joseph Kurilec, 86.
Kurt and Joann Gloger took in their lawn furniture on Treasure Island, near St. Petersburg, secured their boat and came to Georgia with their dog, Moca, stopping in Tifton for morning coffee before driving to the Atlanta area to sit out the storm.
"I'm concerned. We hope we have a house to go back to," Joann Gloger said.
Nick and Diane Primarolo, who moved to Florida about a year ago from Utica, N.Y., arrived in Tifton with his two teenage nephews, Jim and Salvatore Primarolo, who'd been visiting from Utica.
"I probably wouldn't have evacuated, but my wife and nephews are here and I didn't want to take a chance," said Nick Primarolo, 30. "I don't think the water would bother us, but hurricanes spawn tornadoes."
"We're used to snow storms, but I worry about my house crashing in because of a tornado," said Diane Primarolo.