As Hurricane Irma bore down on south Florida, many took to the crowded roads to try to escape.
Two of those who made their way north ended up in South Walton at Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast's Birthing Center.
Jennifer Deazacelis was already 40-plus weeks pregnant with her first child and scheduled for inducing of labor on Thursday at the local hospital in Fort Lauderdale. Her parents were nearby and ready for the momentous occasion, and her husband's parents had flown in from France to be present for the birth.
But with Hurricane Irma bearing down and due to come ashore, the hospital cancelled the induction. Now she was not to go to the hospital until she went into labor and prepared to have the baby naturally.
With no power in her area, the news from the hospital was the last straw for this anxious first-time mother.
"I didn't want that. We were at the mercy of the storm. It was too much emotion for me," said Deazacelis. "I finally said, 'Everyone get in the car. It's time to go.'"
The entire family got in the car about midnight Sept. 7 and started driving north, searching for available hotels and Googling areas where they did not think Irma was headed and hospitals.
They drove up Interstate 75, then headed west on I-10 toward Pensacola until Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast came up in their Google search. Further research convinced them this was the place for their baby to be born.
The family arrived in South Walton about 9 a.m. Sept. 8 and Deazacelis began having contractions at 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 9. Claire Adelie made her entrance into the world at 12:06 p.m. that day, weighing in at 5 pounds and 8 ounces.
"I have no regrets," said the new mom. "It was the best decision we could have made. The facility here was great and we got great care. It was understandable what the hospital in Fort Lauderdale did. My whole plan was to be in a safe area to give birth. It was the best decision we could make. No regrets."
The family is staying at a hotel in the area until they get word that power has been restored to their neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale and they are able to return home.
While the Deazacelis family came in search of somewhere safe to give birth, Lindsey and Chris Barker were just looking to escape St. Petersburg for a few days until Irma passed. They intended to return home for the birth of their first child as Lindsey was just 38 weeks at that point.
"Irma was set to hit the Keys on Sunday but we knew it would affect more of the state and there were no guarantees," said Chris. "Due to her being pregnant, we thought it best that we evacuate."
The trip took them 10 1/2 hours due to traffic and lots of gas stations without gas. Once, when they did find a station with gas, they had to wait in line for 25 minutes in central Florida.
"It was an emotional trip," said Chris.
The couple arrived in Inlet Beach on Sept. 8. They planned to return to St. Pete on Sept. 11.
However, on Sept. 10 at about 3 p.m. Lindsey began having contractions.
Around 5 a.m. Sept. 11, they came to Sacred Heart.
However, after getting checked out and hearing that Lindsey was only dilated to 5 centimeters, the couple left after a couple of hours and went shopping for essentials such as diapers, got something to eat at Waffle House, and took a nap. They even debated whether to return to St. Pete.
However, they returned to Sacred Heart at 5 p.m. and little Cooper James entered the world at 11:08 p.m., weighing 6 pounds and 7 ounces.
"Cooper is our hurricane baby," said Chris.
The couple that arrived as two will return home as three whenever mom feels up to it.