I asked my daughter, Kate,
who is the museum's assistant director at the
Seminole Indian Museum,
to share her recent experiences with hurricane Irma.
I think I can officially call myself a Floridan!
After 8 years of near misses,
Hurricane Irma took a direct aim at south Florida last week.
decided to stay off the coast and
we got a bit of wind and rain.
This time however,
with the size of Irma being over 400 miles wide
there wasn't much chance
we would not feel the effects of this powerful storm.
Hurricane Irma heading towards Florida, followed by Hurricane Jose
I think one of the hardest things about hurricanes
is the anxiety that comes with waiting.
Because of Hurricane Harvey,
Floridians did not waste any time preparing for Irma.
By Tuesday, 5 days before the storm was to hit,
gas stations were already running out of fuel,
grocery store shelves were bare,
and it was almost impossible to find water.
My husband had to go to the gas station
at 2 in the morning on Thursday to get gas--
and even then, there was a line!
Photo credit: Sun Sentinel
Because both my job and my husband's gave us Thursday and Friday off,
we had time to prepare our home
and make sure everything was in order.
As the days passed,
Irma turned into a monster storm.
Thursday she was aiming right for Miami
as a Category 5 with 180mph winds.
Many of our friends and co-workers evacuated.
I tried hard not to refresh
the hurricane models every hour,
wondering which path Irma would take.
By Saturday, Irma had shifted more west
and was heading straight for the Keys.
My heart broke for those living there,
especially a dear friend who lives on Big Pine Key
(where the eye would eventually hit)
Saturday morning we enjoyed some outdoors time.
By early afternoon the clouds were rolling in fast
and rain bands beginning.
A curfew was set
and no one was supposed be out on the roads until Monday.
Even though Irma was headed northwest,
we were going to experience
what meteorologists call the "dirty side" of the hurricane.
Because hurricanes move counterclockwise,
we would get the winds plus its forward velocity.
Irma hitting Cuba on Saturday
The next 27 hours are kind of a blur.
I barely slept Saturday night.
The wind was howling
and the rain was pounding.
I got up at 5
and turned on the news,
which stayed on the remainder of the day,
only to be interrupted by the 5 or 6 tornado warnings.
As the day progressed,
the winds grew stronger.
By 1pm we were getting gusts of over 100 mph.
By 4pm the worst of the storm
hit as the eye moved over Marco Island.
Through the wind we could hear branches snapping
from the trees and strange and loud bangs
and scrapping noises.
I couldn't imagine
what the west coast of Florida was experiencing
knowing we were 100 miles away from the eye of the storm.
I feel so thankful
that we only lost power
for a few minutes throughout the whole storm,
while thousands of people are still without power across the state.
We spent the evening huddled in our living room,
trying to keep our mind off the storm with our favorite shows
(not very easy to do!).
Finally, pure mental exhaustion took its toll
and I finally slept as the winds began to die down.
When we woke on Monday morning
we could see the sun shining.
However, amidst the blue sky
there was so much damage and
stories of devastation were pouring in over the news.
We again felt so lucky that our home
and neighborhood seemed to sustain
only damage to trees, power lines, and the city water pumps.
Others across the state were waking up to their homes flooded
or worse, completely gone.
Over the next few days communication was tough
with a loss of cell service
and we would message our family
when we could through Facebook to let them know we were ok.
My husband walking by downed branches from a nearby tree
To our amazement, our spiny orb spider friend outside our home survived the winds!
On Wednesday I headed out the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum
where I work to do damage assessments of the campus.
Our museum and collections stayed safe through the whole storm!
Unfortunately, our beautiful 1 mile boardwalk
took quite a beating from Irma.
It will take several weeks before our boardwalk can reopen
to the public and a much longer time
before the Cypress Dome comes back to life.
Nine days later,
life is still not quite back to normal.
Grocery stores are starting to restock,
fuel is still limited, stop lights are getting fixed.
People are still without the basic necessities of power and water,
and the piles of debris from trees and vegetation
is a daily reminder of what we all went through last week.
Hurricanes are incredible storms
and it's scary and amazing
to see the strength of mother nature unleash itself.
I just hope that the remainder of hurricane season will be quiet!
Post Hurricane hair
Although at this time,
Hurricane Maria is devastating
the Caribbean Islands, once again.
Hurricane season is far from over.
Until Next Time-