JACKSONVILLE — It’s scary enough being first time parents. Now imagine having your baby’s due date right around the time a major hurricane is expected to hit.
Leah and Derek Dudney are originally from Winter Haven but now live on Florida’s east coast just south of Jacksonville and right in the path of Hurricane Matthew.
The soon-to-be parents are keeping a close eye on the storm’s forecast track and bracing for the worst, which very well could entail giving birth in the middle of the storm.
“It’s definitely something to worry about with how strong the storm is,” said Leah Dudney who is already past her due date of Monday. That means her baby girl could come right as Matthew is approaching Florida’s First Coast.
“I think the odds are probably quite great,” said Leah. “I hope she doesn’t come during the storm but if she does we’ll just have a storm-born child.”
Luckily for the Dudneys they’re not in an evacuation zone and they live just two miles from the hospital. But what about downed trees and power lines?
“If we had a problem getting her to the hospital I’d throw her on my back and run her there myself,” said Leah’s husband Dereck. “Whatever it would take to get her there, that’s what we’d do.”
Some have even questioned if a hurricane’s sudden drop in barometric might throw Leah into labor.
“When it does change, what’s she going to do?" Dereck asked. "Is she going to decide to show or is she going to just hunker down and wait out the storm?”
Whatever the timing the Dudneys are confident they’re prepared. And if little Ella does come during the storm, that might not be so bad after all.
“The hospital will be the last place to lose power,” said Leah. “It definitely would be a cool story for the rest of her life, that’s for sure.”
Leah’s family has even suggested that perhaps she make Ella’s middle name “Maddie” in honor of Hurricane Matthew.