Tampa residents who chose to stay hit hard by Irma

TAMPA, Florida (KGO) -- Tampa's been hit hard by Irma. Mari Rivas knows firsthand. She and her family decided to stay put and ride out the storm largely because of her four pets. They have plenty of food and water and her house is all boarded up.

But with Irma pounding Florida's west coast, Rivas has big regrets.

VIDEO: Winds bend trees just after daybreak as Irma approaches
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People waiting out the storm in Islamorada in the Florida Keys survey the damage just after daybreak.

"I almost feel like crying," said Rivas. "I'm very stressed. I do truly wish I would have evacuated because even right now I hear the winds outside and I hear the tree that's right outside my window hitting my roof and I'm worried it's going to fall onto my house."

But others say it hasn't been that bad. ABC7 Sports Anchor Mike Shumann's nephew Harry Shumann lives in a condo building in Naples where he's managed to stay safe.

"Me and my father actually used mattresses to cover our lanai windows so the wind won't push through which luckily has worked perfectly," said Shumann. "Branches and trees have fallen all over, but everything's okay."

PHOTOS: Hurricane Irma makes landfall in Florida

As for those who heeded the warning, they made it to safety but only after a grueling drive. Naples resident Ed Walters said it took him 26 hours to get to Georgia, three times longer than it would normally take. Now he wonders what things are like back home.

"You have mixed feelings," said Walters. "You feel glad that you made the right decision to get out but you don't know what the heck to expect when you get back."

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