Thursday, September 21, 2017

Hurricane Irma

 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. 
 We were lucky last year when Hurricane Matthew 
 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

 Just waiting...

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-


  1. Wow...what a devastating experience. I'm so glad your family survived and are okay. Hugs

  2. I am so thankful to hear they survived with minimal damage. Your daughter is as wonderful a writer as you are! My son and his family will be moving to FL in a few months. They will be near Northport (Port Charlotte area) and I will definitely make a point of visiting the museum when I come down to visit. Thank you for sharing these frightening experiences.

  3. Kyle me alegro que tu familia este bien.
    Las noticias que llegaban me asustaban, pensando en las amigas y personas que lo estaban viviendo.
    Ahora nos informan del huracán Maria.
    Estamos atentos

  4. What an amazing first hand accounting of this storm. It is so nerve wracking. I lived through Sandy in NJ where I was out of power for 10 days. It's the constant wind that is scarey isn't it?
    I was sad to see the damage to the beautiful boardwalk. Thank goodness it wasn't worse.
    I'm so glad you were safe.

  5. Great to read through this first-hand narration. Thanks for letting us in on this! Natural disasters are always mind boggling.

  6. So glad your daughter is okay! It must have been So scary!

  7. Amazing what all those folks lived through. I'm happy that your daughter and hubby made it through unscathed. I still haven't heard anything from or about a blogging friend who lives in the Keys, about whether their home survived. She evacuated several days before the storm hit.

  8. OH my glad there is not any loss of life...and this will be a long time to get over!!

  9. My goodness what an experience - very frightening for you! So sad to see the damaged vegetation but glad it was no worse for you.

  10. What a harrowing experience and thank you for sharing your firsthand account. I'm so glad to hear you made it through the storm okay. It's so sad to see all the devastation--especially on and around the boardwalk. Lots of cleaning up to do in the coming weeks!

  11. So glad you are safe. Can't imagine riding out the storm! Brave girl.

  12. I can not imagine the feeling of being boarded up inside my home while hearing the storm outside, never knowing what is happening and what is about to happen. I am so happy that it is over. My brother lives in Florida and I was so worried about him and his wife. They mainly had tree damage and their Lani was damaged. That and of course no power. I was happy that in all of that, they still had cell phone.

  13. She described the harrowing experience quite well...I can't imagine hearing those winds howl for such a long period of time. Glad that their home was spared.

  14. An interesting post. The spider web survived pretty well. I often wonder about the wildlife and how they survive storms like this. We often drive by some osprey nests that are high up on poles designed for them to make their nests there and not on electric poles. It is a game for us to guess how many ospreys we will see on our drive by their poles. We have not seen one osprey since the hurricane and we are wondering where they went.