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Sara Erickson stood along the coast in Virginia Beach,Va., with her father, Joe

Brainerd natives hope they can weather storm

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news Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

It’s only been 27 days since Sara Erickson, 23, packed her bags in Minnesota and moved to Virginia Beach, Va.

When the 2006 Brainerd High School graduate moved to Virginia Beach — living in a condo within 10 miles from the coast — this month, she never thought she’d experience a hurricane so quickly.

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Erickson, the daughter of Terri and Joe Erickson of Baxter, had the power go on and off in her condo Friday afternoon but was able to chat through Facebook with the Dispatch.

“Right now the sky is really overcast and white, which is pretty abnormal from what we have experienced this past month,” Sara said. “It is usually bright blue and sunny. It is extremely hot and humid and still. Late last night we had a huge downpour of rain which flooded all of my plants, not sure if that was related to the upcoming storm.”

Erickson said the city of Virginia Beach was not being evacuated as of 3 p.m. Friday She said some people were voluntarily evacuating. She said she was not planning on leaving her condo, but planned to keep a close eye on the weather and updates to determine if they’ll leave.

“We are not in a flood zone, but we are near one,” said Erickson. “...If we do need to evacuate we are going to have to find a hotel or drive to Florida where the nearest friends of mine live, because the shelters do not allow any pets.”

Erickson said she just flew back from Orlando, Fla., Thursday night.

“So all of this kind of hit all at once,” Erickson wrote. “I was not so concerned when I got here and thought people were maybe overreacting about the extremity of it all. However, there have been businesses and houses being boarded up and friends from Nate’s (boyfriend) school and others leaving the state. It hits home more when you see it all happening in person.”

Erickson said she and her boyfriend have stocked up on bottled water, snacks and other foods that don’t need to be cooked, since she is not sure if they’ll have power. Erickson said they had to go to several places to purchase propane, since most places were sold out.

Erickson, who earned her associate’s degree from Central Lakes College in Brainerd and then a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota in 2009, is now attending  Old Dominion University to earn a master’s degree in business. The university was closed Friday because of the hurricane.

“Minnesota will always be home, but I am definitely loving these new experiences here in Virginia Beach,” said Erickson. “Getting to experience all these new types of weather is exciting. I have to admit I am a bit of an adventure seeker and I find all of this fascinating! I am disappointed I didn’t get to be here a couple of days ago when the earthquake hit us!”

Terri Erickson said she has been watching the weather constantly to make sure her daughter is OK.

“It’s been 20 years since they’ve had a hurricane in Virginia Beach and of course this would be the year they have one,” said Erickson. She and her   husband, Joe Erickson, took a week of vacation during the first week of August to drive out to Virginia Beach to help Sara move. “I miss her being in the state.”

Another Brainerd native, Alvina Mathewson, moved to Carthage, N.C., 3 1/2 years ago. Mathewson, a 2006 Brainerd High School graduate, said she lives about three hours from the coast in a mobile home with her 9-month-old son.

Mathewson, a full-time student at Sandhills Community College, said the news of the storm should hit near her Saturday morning with high winds of 70-80 mph and rain. Currently she said it was humid out and in the 90s.

“I was told to stock up on water, but they were out,” said Mattewson. “You have to go out and find it.

“I’m just sitting here and watching the news and waiting to see what happens. I never talked to anyone about what to do in a situation like this. I’m feeling a little bit nervous, but I don’t think it’ll happen, but if it does it will be bad.”

Matthewson, the daughter of Caren Pierzinski, said if it gets bad she will go to her fiancee’s boss’ house, which is 20 minutes away.

“She’s nervous for me,” she said of her mother. “I’m her baby girl and I moved here on my own.”

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5851.

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