MINNEAPOLIS - As Hurricane Irma bears down on Florida, Minnesota is sending help and taking in many people with ties to the area.

On Friday, Governor Dayton activated a team of 16 emergency management professionals from several Minnesota departments. The group is already on the road south and will help with response and recovery efforts in Florida.

Meanwhile, flights from various Florida cities to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport have been packed for several days with people looking to get away from the storm.

A Sun Country flight carried dozens of people from the Fort Meyers, Naples area. The latest models show the storm heading straight for many of their homes.

"We figured with our two young ones, we'd just get out of town, be better safe than sorry,” said Yasmin Benetez, who is planning to stay in Wisconsin with family.

For some longtime residents, evacuating is something new.

"I lived and went through Wilma, Hugo, Charlie and all the rest,” said Bobbi Schwikert. “This one is big and scary, and I thank God I'm here."

But in this case, Schwikert said God didn’t act alone.

"Bless this little angel here,” she said, pointing to her daughter Jacki. “She was able to get me a ticket."

"I was just struggling at night thinking, how can we get her out of there?” Jacki Schwikert said. “And I'm just fortunate for faith... that two seats opened up on SunCountry."