HUDSON, Fla. — Melissa Bartell spent 16 good years in North Texas.
But the 17th year was difficult.
She and her husband, Chris, lost power during the winter storm of February 2021.
The lights and heat would come back on every once in a while, but she said the indoor temperature fell into the 40s.
Pipes burst and their downstairs flooded.
Their Grand Prairie home suffered $35,000 in damage.
During the months-long renovation, Melissa went to visit her mom – who’d just moved to a town near Tampa.
“And I fell in love with the peninsula,” she said.
The Bartells decided to sell their Texas home and make the move east.
In February 2022, they settled in Hudson, Florida – two counties north of Tampa.
“I live seven minutes from the beach,” Melissa said.
But that comes with a cost.
They traded Texas’ extreme weather for Florida’s.
Hurricane Ian is now barreling for the state’s west coast – not far from where they live.
The Bartells' neighborhood is under a mandatory evacuation order, effective Wednesday.
But as the storm’s predicted path shifted south, the Bartells decided to stay.
Melissa said, “The people who’ve been here for like 30 years are like, oh yeah, we’ll get some flooding, but don’t worry.”
“We have cases of bottled water. We have peanut butter. We have tuna,” she said. “The hurricane shutters that came with the house are up.”
Their home was built in the 1970s and neighbors tell her it’s survived worse threats.
“Even though I haven’t met some of these people they’re like, hey we have a generator, so if you run out of power and you need to cook just come over.”
Melissa’s mother is about 15 minutes away and she is not under an evacuation order, so they’ll go to her home if things get dangerous.
Melissa said they knew what they were getting into when they became Floridians. And they don’t regret the move.
“We knew there would be hurricanes, but at least you can prepare,” she said. “It’s not sub-zero and that makes a huge difference. I mean, yeah, it’s going to get hot if we lose power..but we can open a window and not freeze to death.”