Former Hawaii residents in Florida preparing for hurricane Matthew

Former Hawaii residents in Florida preparing for hurricane Matthew

ORLANDO, Florida (HawaiiNewsNow) - Despite the distance between the two states, Hawaii transplants in Florida are using their experience with Central Pacific hurricanes to prepare for Hurricane Matthew.

"This one is definitely an eye-opener, because they're talking about how this hurricane is going to be pretty strong," said Kristopher De La Cruz.

De La Cruz is one of the Florida residents who are now preparing for the possibility of a Category 3 storm hitting the Sunshine State. He moved from Hawaii to Celebration, near Orlando, just last July. It's now an area that's under a hurricane warning ahead of Matthew, which is forecast to brush Florida's Atlantic Coast Thursday night.

De La Cruz has already been to the stores to stock up on provisions. He's also been to the gas station to top off his vehicle's tank, like thousands of others are doing.

"They've closed school for Thursday and Friday," he said. "They're basically telling us from this evening to tomorrow morning to clear debris, to remove any loose backyard equipment."

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 3,639 Hawaii residents moved to Florida in 2011. There are even 30 or so hula schools or halau in the state.

The Hawaii Chapter of the American Red Cross has already sent three volunteers from Maui and the Big Island to Florida ahead of the storm to provide disaster assistance after seeing the storm batter Haiti and the Bahamas with strong winds and torrential rain.

De La Cruz said having experience with hurricane preparations in Hawaii has helped.

"Seeing a Pacific hurricane, being there and understanding how potentially dangerous it is in Hawaii, it made me knowledgeable enough to take the precautions here."

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