A young Mandurah woman who landed in Florida just weeks ago to pursue her dream of working in the United States has suddenly found herself preparing for Hurricane Irma.
Kaylee Meerton, a former journalist for the Bunbury Mail, left Western Australia four weeks ago to spend a year in Orlando.
She expected fun, new friends and new experiences.
What she hadn't banked on was finding herself in the path of one of the biggest hurricanes the US has ever seen.
Speaking to the Mandurah Mail on Saturday evening, Kaylee said the atmosphere in Orlando was “frantic”.
“Everyone is so panicked and just don’t know what to expect,” she said.
Many people have evacuated, especially from south Florida where it’s been made a mandatory evacuation zone.
“The roads are so insane, more like a parking lot, and everything has been stripped off the shelves, even wood from the hardware stores as people bar up their houses.”
A video shared by Kaylee on Instagram showed bare shelves and people lining up to buy essentials before Hurricane Irma hits.
Being in central Florida, Kaylee said she was not evacuating, but was still expecting to experience fierce winds.
“The width of the storm is 400 miles and Florida is only 150 miles wide,” she said.
“It would be too late to evacuate now.
“All flights have been cancelled from now and everything will be pretty much closed from tonight till at least Tuesday.”
Kaylee said she had been advised to wait in a safe place and “ride it out”.
Despite the fact Irma is packing sustained winds of more than 150m/hr, Kaylee said she felt safe and was keeping in touch with her family back home.
The hurricane is expected to make landfall in Florida on Sunday.