Syrian refugee families flee Hurricane Irma, find help in Nashvi - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Syrian refugee families flee Hurricane Irma, find help in Nashville

Belal Alzamel's family fled Syria in 2012, eventually landing thousands of miles away in Miami. (WSMV) Belal Alzamel's family fled Syria in 2012, eventually landing thousands of miles away in Miami. (WSMV)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Years ago, a family had to suddenly leave their home. With the arrival of Hurricane Irma, they were forced to do it again. Now, they're counting on the kindness of Middle Tennesseans.

In a Nashville apartment Wednesday, two families were still smiling and laughing despite everything that happened to them to previous few days and previous few years.

Belal Alzamel's family fled Syria in 2012, eventually landing thousands of miles away in Miami.

"It was a good opportunity for my family when we were told my family would resettle in Florida," said Alzamel, speaking through a translator.

After years making Florida their home, the family learned they'd have to go again.

"We didn't want to leave," said Alzamel's wife, Faten Achamad, speaking through a translator. "The weather looked scary. We decided we had to go."

The family joined up with the Arfat family. Four adults and five children all piled into one car. As Hurricane Irma hit their Miami home, the families drove out of the state.

"We ran for our lives exactly like when we left Syria," Achamad said. "We ran for our lives with just the clothes on our backs. I thank God we left and ran away with my children. I came without clothes for my children. We lost all of our clothing to the hurricane."

"All of us sat with two kids on our lap," Alzamel added.

With all the traffic from evacuations, the families said they spent 44 hours on the road in that little car before they arrived in Nashville.

Through Facebook, the two families each found a Middle Tennessee refugee family who wanted to take them in from the hurricane. Supplies came from the Islamic Center of Nashville, Murfreesboro Muslim Youth, Murfreesboro Roots for Refugees and volunteers.

"I just thank those people," said volunteer Eman Almagida. "Those families are already having difficult times. They're still helping other families who ran away from the hurricane."

"I think we lost everything there," Alzamel said. "We hear our building has been flooded with three feet of water, but we don't know. We may not go back. We're thinking about staying here in Tennessee. This family will help me find a job."

"I am happy to be welcomed with this family and to be allowed to stay as long as we want," Achamad said. "They have supported us very well. We thank them for standing beside us. We thank them for all they've done for us."

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