NAS Pensacola has welcomed hundreds of military family evacuees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba who were flown to Pensacola in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew. We got a chance to speak with some of them, including Amy Lynn Culpepper, the wife of Guantanamo Bay Commanding Officer.
As Hurricane Matthew makes landfall in Cuba, families from Guantanamo Bay are keeping busy at NAS Pensacola. They were given short notice they had to evacuate. Some had planned on staying put.
“We had decided we were not gonna leave,” said Amy Lynn Culpepper, who is married to Captain David Culpepper, Commanding Officer at Guantanamo. “We were going to weather the storm, stay with dad, stay with Tucker, our dog. That was very short lived when we got the order that it was a mandatory evacuation.”
Culpepper left the base with her daughter, who is 11. Another woman who works on the base as a counselor at the school evacuated with her three children, ages 17, 15, and 7.
“Everything happened so quickly that it was kind of like an adventure for them,” Natelvi Archuleta said. “Of course, they’re worried about their things at home.”
Both women stressed seeing their kids with their friends is giving them some peace of mind in this tough time.
“Being here together, I think is ideal for us because we’re seeing familiar faces and were able to lean on each other and help each other out,” said Archuleta.
They stay updated through Facebook on the things they had to leave.
“Not that I don’t miss my husband, but we had to leave our dog behind and that was really challenging,” Culpepper said.
Evacuees wanted to send gratitude not only to NAS Pensacola but the entire community.
“They’ve just gone above and beyond to make us feel welcome,” Culpepper said. “And, really help everyone get through this and we can’t thank them enough. They’ve been extraordinary.”
Some pets also came with the evacuation group. Cats, dogs, and even a bunny rabbit are calling NAS Pensacola home as well through the hurricane.