Philadelphia (WTXF) - A Florida family who was planning on moving to Philly is here earlier than expected due to Hurricane Irma.
"As the weekend went on I realized I can't fly back and just leave my family in the path of the hurricane," said Rochelle Gilken as she recalls Labor Day weekend when she was in Florida to spend time with her family.
They’re in the process of moving to Philadelphia where Rochelle started her dream business "Action Karate" in Mt. Airy almost three weeks ago. Her husband is a teacher in West Palm Beach. They have two children 7- year-old Rosey and 5-year-old Roman.
"We decided that I would come up and fly back and forth until the end of the school year so they would stay in Florida to finish out the school year," she said. But with Irma threatening the Florida coast Rochelle and her husband Justin decided they should evacuate and come back to Philadelphia with Rochelle for now.
"We said we have to take as much as we can possibly get and get out now," said Rochelle. She showed me pictures from the 18 hour drive they made 12:30 Thursday morning. They're staying with Rochelle's family who also live in the area.
"We're here and we're safe and that's really all that matters," said Justin who was doing work on the karate studio today when I stopped in to talk to them.
"I was basically on a ladder three days ago as well. We had to put our shutters and boards up on our windows," he said. Being in Florida for 12 years the Gilken family has been through a lot of hurricanes. In fact Justin jokes that they used to have hurricane parties. But things have changed.
"Before we had the kids we never really thought to evacuate but now that we have the kids we just go," he said. Rochelle and Justin don't know what to expect when he and the kids return to West Palm Beach but they're looking forward to eventually leaving the sunshine state for good.
"Sure we're going to miss the warm weather of Florida but being out of harm’s way with the hurricanes will be a big relief," said Rochelle. They don’t know when Justin and the kids will return. They’re waiting to hear when schools will reopen and it’s safe to go back.