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Local couple helps daughter evacuate from home as Hurricane Irma approaches

Posted at 6:16 PM, Sep 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-11 21:26:21-04

A local couple flew to Florida to help their daughter evacuate while her husband, a first responder, had to stay behind.

Alissa Gilman moved from to Tucson to West Palm Beach 10 years ago, and this is her family's first hurricane. 

Gilman had to evacuate Thursday planning to fly to Tucson to stay with her parents, but flights were too expensive.  

"My husband had to stay because he is a first responder, a fireman, so he had to stay, and that was heartbreaking because that you know we have a 4-year-old daughter and so originally it was going to just be me and my daughter that were going to have to go and my husband behind that's when my mom chimed in and said your dad and I will come help you," she said.

Without hesitation, her parents flew to Florida to help board up Alissa and her daughter's home.

"We couldn't just think about them being out here by themselves," said Susann Bustamante, Gilman's mother. 

The family says on their way to Orlando they saw fights in lines for gas and they rescued a stranded puppy. Then later they experienced first hand a terrifying storm, unlike anything they had ever seen.

"We were watching trees tumble and water hitting the window," said Gilman. "It was really powerful."

But she says the toughest thing last night was watching her young daughter worry about her daddy's safety.

"When my daughter called my husband last night before the storm, and she wanted to make sure he was okay that was, 'You are okay daddy you are going to be okay,'  and I was like, 'Awh that was a hard one."'

Gilman says she spoke with her husband and he is okay.

She plans to return home tomorrow to assess the rest of the damage.