Florida natives come to Canes-Lightning game to take minds off Hurricane Ian concerns

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) — Hockey was back at PNC Arena Tuesday night as the Carolina Hurricanes hosted the Tampa Bay Lightning in NHL preseason action.

A lot of Bolts fans came out to take their minds off Ian, the major hurricane bearing down on their home state.

“It’s coming in pretty quick down there,” said Dan Helotie, who drove in from Charlotte for the game.

He grew up outside Tampa.

“Thankfully my friends are prepped, they are ready for it. It comes with the territory of living down there,” Helotie said.

Carlos Esparza drove up from Jacksonville for the game where he’s stationed at Camp Lejeune.

He has memories of riding out storms with his family in Tampa. He said the family still there is staying for Ian and they’ve tied down as much as they can.

“It’s a serious time, these things are no joke though,” Esparza said.

Jen Martin, executive director of Shop Local Raleigh, has her eyes focused on where she grew up: Punta Gorda, Florida.

“A lot of my high school friends still live there and they are raising their families there,” she said.

Her mom left for this storm but she said her sister has to stay because she works at a hospital.

Martin remembers what Hurricane Charley did to her hometown back in 2004.

“It becomes very real once it hits the place where you grew up,” she said. “It’s changing to a community.”

The Hurricanes were supposed to fly to Tampa after Tuesday’s game to play another preseason game against the Lightning in Tampa.

That game was canceled though and Tampa will fly from RDU to Nashville to play the Predators on Thursday.

The Canes won Tuesday’s exhibition 5-1.

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