77-year-old West Palm Beach evacuee who ‘does not scare easy’ arrives in Richmond

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. — Floridians are evacuating to Richmond by plane, train and automobile to escape Hurricane Irma.

Seventy-seven-year-old Laura Spiller caught the last train into Staples Mill station Friday afternoon from West Palm Beach.

She will be staying with her nephew Henry Spiller who says this is the first time his aunt has ever evacuated.

“She does not scare easy, and she’s had some hurricanes come right in where she lives before, but for her to even think about it, that’s saying something,” said Henry Spiller.

“Never had one this powerful. Second of all, I was alone if I had someone with me I would have considered staying, but even then I don’t think I would have,” said Laura Spiller. “I hope to God I don’t have to stay here forever, but I don’t know what I am going back to.”

“Her safety is the most important thing. Just getting her here out of the line of that storm that’s everything,” said Henry.

Getting her to Richmond wasn’t easy. Amtrak has now suspended services in Florida.

Henry and Laura Spiller

Amtrak released the following schedule changes.

  • The Silver Star train 92 and Silver Meteor train 98 (Miami – New York City) are cancelled for Sept. 9-11.
  • The Silver Star train 91 (New York City – Miami) and Silver Meteor train 97 (New York City – Miami) are cancelled for Sept. 8-10.
  • The auto train 53 (lorton, va. – sanford, fla.) is cancelled for friday, sept.8, and saturday, sept. 9. the auto train 52 (sanford, fla. – lorton, va.) is cancelled on sept. 9-11.
  • The Palmetto train 89 (new york city – savannah, ga.,) is cancelled from Sept. 9-12.
  • The Palmetto train 90 (Savannah, Ga., – New York City) is cancelled from Sept. 10-13.

No alternate transportation will be provided.

Flights have also been impacted.

Floridians Shawna and Jamie Dixon flew into Richmond for NASCAR weekend. Their flight home has been cancelled so their only hope of getting back to their children ahead of the storm was to rent a car.

“I’m very nervous about it because it’s such a big storm,” said Shawna Dixon. “Just worried about the house, worried about everybody making it through OK.”

Meanwhile, Laura Spiller is not sure when she will return to Florida.

“It’s just apprehension. You think one thing and another and you say will there be anything there to go back to? Will I have minor damage or total damage,” Laura Spiller said. “I just say God help us all.”​



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