Bradenton, Fla. -- “As soon as the roads are clear and I can get there...” says John Nipar.
The father of three looks forward to getting back home to Melbourne but for the last 24 hours, Braden River High School has been home for John Nipar and his family.
“We just happen to be lucky to see that sign coming here. We had a wonderful breakfast. My family slept well. Because we have a special needs child, they gave us our own room,” says Nipar.
The shelter accepted his dog Leo too.
Nipar says he survived Hurricane Sandy four years ago in New Jersey and wasn’t taking any chances with Matthew but finding a hotel was tough.
He says, “I went north on I-95 back south on I-75.” Just when he was about to give up, the 55-year-old father says he saw a sign for the school-based shelter run by the Red Cross in Bradenton.
Nipar says, “I felt I was protecting my family even though I’m disabled right now.”
“You ready to check in?” says the front desk person at the Best Western to Matt Jerozal.
Matt Jerozal had planned a family weekend getaway to Bradenton from Palm Bay several months ago to do some drag racing but Hurricane Matthew moved his trip up a day. His neighborhood on the east coast survived the storm.
Jerozal says, “A few shingles off a couple of friends’ houses, most fences are down…some without power some with power.”
But his wallet took a hit. Jerozal says the only room available last night was at a luxury hotel in St. Petersburg.
Jerozal says, “That’s $300 I’ll never get back, but at least I know my family is safe.”
Emergency officials gave the “all clear” for residents living south of Cocoa Beach to return home as of mid-afternoon Friday.