MORROW, Ohio -- Jackson Ertel said he almost ran out of gas as he was evacuating ahead of Hurricane Florence.
Ertel, who attends the University of North Carolina Wilmington, lives about a mile from the beach, but luckily he has a second home in Morrow to ride out the storm.
Hurricane Florence has weakened to a Category 2 storm over the Atlantic with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph -- but the size of its wind field has increased, the National Hurricane Center says.
Still, North Carolina authorities went door to door with a loudspeaker, warning people to get out.
Ertel didn’t take any chances. He said he didn’t board up his apartment, but he made sure to move everything off of the floor before he left in case his home floods. Officials predict the storm could pour 35 inches of rain on the area.
He left in the middle of the night in an effort to avoid traffic; he drove to Raleigh to catch a flight to Cincinnati. But he still barely made it to the airport. He nearly ran out of feul waiting in line at a gas station.
“There were five cars ahead of me,” Ertel said. “I finally got some, premium is all they had left, but I was about out, so I was just happy to get any at all. Last I heard from people back there is they are pretty much completely out.
“So I think everyone that's there now that I've talked to said it's like a ghost town, just kind of hunkered down, just getting ready for the storm. It's definitely not pretty, everyone is pretty worried about it."
Classes at UNC Wilmington were cancelled this week. Jackson bought a plane ticket to return to the East Coast Sunday, but he may be stuck in Cincinnati depending on storm damage and cleanup efforts.