Former Alaskans and Alaska National Guard brace for Hurricane Irma's impact

19 Alaska National Guardsmen are in Miami preparing for boat rescue missions.
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) As Hurricane Irma rips through Florida, it's a new experience for some former Alaskans not sure what to expect.

Alissa Cotler, a former Alaskan who moved to Florida just one month ago said she and her son evacuated the Naples area to Jacksonville.

"It's awful, I've never seen anything like this in my life," Cotler said.

Cotler said her husband is still in Soldotna, in process of selling his medical practice.

"We came here for a new life for our son, we wanted a better education he had a fantastic opportunity with his hockey team and I'm just fearful it's another roadblock," Cotler said.

Former Fairbanks resident Onole Wells, who works as a nurse said she couldn't leave Wauchula.

"No, as much as I wanted to, you know it was it was really not an option and neither for my daughter, she's a corrections officer," Wells said.

Once it's safe, Wells, like many others will go straight to work.

"We have hurricane teams for work and so there's a group that had to stay on site before this even hit in preparation and then there's a group of us who will go in once the all clear pass on the highway has been issued. Then we'll relieve those guys so they can get some rest," Wells said.

19 Alaska National Guardsmen are now in Miami after working in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Lt. Col. Matthew Komatsu, Commander of the 212 Rescue Squadron said they will stay there as long as it's necessary.

"We are prepared to conduct boat rescues, we had a team just recover back from supporting hurricane Harvey last Sunday. Of course Irma rolled right in so we turned those boats, cleaned them off, re-rolled them and put them back on an aircraft with the 19 guardsmen," Lt. Col. Komatsu said.

While Alaska is thousands of miles away from the havoc of Irma, it's clear many former and current Alaskans are keeping a close watch over the storm.

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