Irma victims from Florida staying in Kinston for now


KINSTON, Lenoir County - One Florida family who decided to evacuate Florida as Hurricane Irma approached is now living in Kinston.

For most families, the Neuseway Planetarium and Nature Center are a fun day trip but for one family, this has been their home for the last week. The Varelas call Miami home. But when Hurricane Irma was approaching, they decided to evacuate the area.

They were originally staying in a hotel but after it shut its doors, the family had to travel further north than they planned.

"So we bought a tent in South Carolina and started camping and then they were gonna get 40 miles per hour winds the next day right after we got there," Mirtha Varelas said. "So I said 'we're definitely going to have to keep going north and that's how we ended up here in Eastern North Carolina."

The family, which includes Mirtha's husband and two children, have been staying at the Neuseway Campgrounds in Kinston since Sept. 10. The children, Adrian and Olivia, are homeschooled. So their mom continued with lessons at the planetarium and the Neuse Regional Library. The Varela family said the amount of support they've received from the Kinston community has been incredible and they've been able to get by this week from the kindness of strangers.

The family's husband received part-time work while in Kinston and King's BBQ has also been helping out with meals. The family plans to leave for Miami on Friday. Friends and family who stayed through Irma told them there was no structural damage to their home.

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