by: Lauren Seabrook Updated:
LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - Hurricane Irma hit Leesburg hard, and resident Ami Honea's neighborhood has piles of debris to prove it.
But just before the storm blew through, Honea made a decision that cost her her job.
"I did what I needed to do, for the safety of my children," Honea said.
Honea worked as a nurse at the Lake County Jail, a place that can't just lock up and close during a hurricane.
But she's a single mom to a 17-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son and has no family in Florida, so she decided to take her kids to Atlanta.
The drive lasted 22 hours.
"They would've been left here in this house, by themselves, in the storm, with the winds the way it was, with trees knocked down, power lines snapping,” she said.
Honea said she told her boss she felt it was her only option and that he never told her she would lose her job over it.
But when she came back to work Monday, they fired her.
Attorney Kelli Hastings, who WFTV-TV Orlando spoke to before the storm, said because Florida is a right-to-work state, the termination is legal.
"There (are) no laws that protect an employee in that situation,” Hastings said.
Honea said the law isn’t fair to single parents.
"I think that's crazy. I think the laws need to be changed because, for single moms especially, what are we supposed to do during a disaster situation like that with our children?" she said.
Honea now plans to get an attorney and take her fight for more leniency during natural disasters to lawmakers.
She said she would make the same decision if she could do it over again.
“My kids are more important than my job,” she said.
WFTV-TV Orlando contacted the privately contracted company, Armor Correctional Health Services, that fired Honea, and was referred to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, which said it has nothing to do with the hiring or firing of the medical employees at the company.
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