HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — As Hurricane Idalia made landfall in Florida, millions of residents in its path were forced to flee or hunker down. Some of them escaped to central Alabama.

Wick Oliver evacuated from Homosassa, Florida, near Tampa. He, his wife and pets arrived in their RV at the Hoover Met Complex RV Park on Tuesday afternoon.

“You grab a few things that you need, put it away safe, and pray for the best to happen,” Oliver said on what it was like to drop everything and evacuate ahead of the storm.

Oliver used to live in Alabama and has family here, so the location was a logical choice for them. He said fortunately their Florida neighborhood seems to have been spared the worst of the storm.

“You never know what’s gonna happen,” Oliver said. “It could have turned, it could have come our way, it could have been much worse.”

While he doesn’t know how long they’ll have to stay in Alabama, they’re grateful the Hoover Met has given them a free place to ride out the storm.

“We really appreciate the hospitality and the ability to come here,” Oliver said.

The Hoover Met Complex RV Park has hosted hurricane evacuees for years. During this time last year, the park welcomed 20 to 25 evacuees during Hurricane Ian. The park has three Idalia evacuees, including the Olivers, and still has space for more.

“[It’s] really difficult having to leave your home not knowing what you will find when you come back,” said City of Hoover Public Information Officer Melanie Posey-Joseph. “And so certainly during that time, we just want to be a respite, a place of calm, a place of peace.”

Posey-Joseph added the city will continue to offer a safe space to whoever needs it for years to come.

“Community is not just for folks in your city, but it’s for your neighbors who can be in a neighboring city, a neighboring state,” Posey-Joseph said.