DADE CITY, Fla. (KDKA) — A woman who grew up in Punxsutawney and currently lives in Tampa is 39 weeks pregnant and worried about going into labor when Hurricane Irma hits.
Kimberly O’Byrne is staying with her aunt, who’s a native Pittsburgher… in Dade City, Fla., until Hurricane Irma passes through. She was hoping to go to the hospital Saturday in case she gives birth when the storm hits, but soon found out that she can’t go to the hospital until she is actually in labor.
“‘Unless you’re in active labor, we are not a shelter.’ That’s what she told me,” said Kimberly O’Byrne.
That’s what staff from Florida Hospital of Tampa told Kimberly O’Byrne when she was plotting out where to go once Hurricane Irma hits Florida.
“I instantly burst into tears because now I feel like I don’t have somewhere to go,” O’Byrne said.
O’Byrne is 39 weeks pregnant and is afraid she might go into labor once Irma makes landfall over the weekend.
“It’s frightening when you don’t know if you can make it to a hospital in time and what if the baby would need medical attention immediately and we can’t get to it,” O’Byrne said.
Once Irma moves up the state of Florida and passes the Tampa area, the hurricane is expected to be a Category 2. It’s getting through those winds to a hospital that has her concerned.
“I thought about evacuating. My mom called me. We’re from Pennsylvania. She said, ‘Just get on a plane and get up here.’ I said, ‘I can’t.’ First of all, I don’t want to leave my husband. Second, we have three dogs,” O’Byrne said.
O’Byrne and her husband, Kevin, live on MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa with their two year old son KJ, but they can’t stay there. In fact, Friday, the base told everyone to evacuate because its right in the flood storm surge zone.
“I’m staying with family, and they’ve lived here for 30 years, and it’s pretty serious when Floridians get scared,” O’Byrne said. “I’m trusting that God will give me clarity and I’m praying that we aren’t put into a situation where it’s life or death.”
KDKA’s Amy Wadas called the Florida Hospital of Tampa and they said they will be open around the clock through Irma and are ready to take extra patients that were evacuated from hospitals in south Florida.
Locally officials with UPMC said they have had discussions with FEMA and are ready to help when the time comes.