WARSAW — How many people would drop everything in their life to help a friend in need? Hannah Florentine, 22, Warsaw, did last Tuesday night. She went out of her comfort zone to help a friend.
She had seen the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. Her closest and best friend was now in the projected path of Hurricane Irma. Sydney Miller had moved from Warsaw to Stuart, Fla., 105 miles north of Miami on the east coast, just two months ago.
“Her life is everything to me. It killed me when I heard she was staying there.” Florentine stated Miller is her longest and truest friend. “I think she would do the same thing for me … just as stubborn as I am … don’t take no for an answer.”
Florentine was in contact with Miller early in the week. Miller and her family attempted to get an airline ticket. But airlines were price gouging the cost. It was financially impossible to escape. Miller decided to take her chances and stay. Florentine saw that post on Facebook and went into action.
“I was at work, just pacing around,” Florentine said. Then she made a decision. She was going after her friend. “I was face timing her and telling her I was coming down to get her,” Florentine said. But Miller tried to discourage it, saying she would be fine.
“I told her she didn’t have any option. I went up to my boss and said I know I will be gone for 1 1/2 months, (for a prescheduled vacation) but I’m leaving, my friend is more important than my job,” Florentine stated. She went home at 11 p.m. Her father tried to talk her out of it. “When I say I’m going to do something I do it,” she said.
Miller, who had no means of transportation, said she is glad her friend came and got her. “If it didn’t shift, we would have gotten hit hard,” she said. Her home appears to be intact, but there is no electric power.
Miller said she and her roommates had already boarded up their home and put the yard furniture in the pool. But food was already becoming scarce, even the shelves at Walmart were empty. Miller also packed up everything she owned and brought it back home with her, determined not to lose anything.
Back in Indiana, Florentine left work, grabbed a few items and was on the road. She questioned her actions numerous times, but her answer was always yes, she was doing the right thing. She made a brief stop in London, Ky., early the next morning for an hour’s sleep. Then back on the road. It would be 15 hours before she reached her friend.
She did encounter gas stations out of gas, but on the Florida Turnpike there was gas available. Only the lines were long, and forming in the opposite direction she was heading. She was able to make a three-point turnaround and fill up the tank. But she was also prepared. She brought with her three gas cans full of gasoline. She also encountered a storm near Orlando, witnessing lightning like she had never seen before.
Her stay in Stuart was short lived. The three she came to rescue were packed and ready. As they were leaving the evacuation alert was issued. “It took us two hours to go 100 miles,” Florentine stated. When they made it to Atlanta, they were fortunate to find a hotel and spent some time sightseeing on the way home.
“I am very proud of my daughter for putting the values she learned as a child to use as a young adult,” stated Florentine’s father, John. He was told by his father he learned “it seems like some of us are so afraid to get involved, that the giving, the taking and the sharing is not worth the risk of uncertainty.” “I believe Hannah has that as part of her value system. Hannah brought back her friend and two other people to bring them out of harms way … Most people have the potential of breaking out of their comfort zone and do something life changing.”