Hey guys! How’s it going?
Well as you probably know, Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc on Florida over the weekend. Not my first rodeo but I’d never experienced a hurricane like this one.
This was one crazy storm as it defied all the models and pretty much did it’s own thing. First it was going to go up the east coast of Florida, then it was going to go up the middle of the state… THEN it was going to go up the west coast, which is where I am (Tampa area). So there was a lot of panic and pandemonium around here as the storm approached.
Irma finally made landfall Saturday on the main peninsula of Florida at Marco Island as a Category 3 storm (sustained winds of 111 to 130 MPH), but quickly weakened to a Category 2 (sustained winds of 96 to 110 MPH). But then Irma started shifting east as she traveled north and weakened even more to a Category 1 storm (sustained winds of 74 to 90 MPH) and the eye of the storm was just east of the Tampa area. Even a Cat 1 storm’s winds are no joke. It was a very spooky night. I lost power around 9:30pm and was huddled in the bathroom (safest room in the house) most of the night with my cats. My bathroom is like a closet, so it was very cramped in there.
I didn’t find out until the next day that Irma had shifted even more east, her eyewall had collapsed (which is why it weakened further to a Category 1 when it came through here though it was predicted to be a 2) and she ended up going through the middle of the state, including Orlando (I had several friends who had evacuated to the Orlando and surrounding area, plus friends who live there). It was almost like Hurricane Charley back in 2004, but a much bigger storm that passed through at a slower rate than Charley’s bullet path.
The following morning, I still didn’t have power and cell phone service was spotty (it still is as of this writing). I saw a lot of downed tree branches and debris scattered around my complex. My car was fine (because I was smart and didn’t park under a tree like my neighbor did… their car was surrounded by downed tree branches but looked ok otherwise). My apartment building was fine as well, but I saw a few other buildings had broken windows, trees leaning against them… one even had some of its roof blown off! There was no power in the entire neighborhood. I learned more than half the state of Florida was without power and they were saying it could take up to a week or more to restore it. But power trucks from like 28 states were heading down to help get things back up and running. Gotta love that. A friend of mine who evacuated to South Carolina spotted lots of tree service trucks as well heading to Florida as she headed back home.
My boyfriend came over later in the day and we took a drive to see what was going on elsewhere and see if anywhere had power. It felt good to get out as I had been holed up since Friday afternoon and cabin fever was starting to set in. We saw some power trucks out working and saw some traffic lights operating but others not (and some had cops out directing traffic). We saw various degrees of damage ranging from tree branches to whole billboards toppled over and business signs leaning.
Up by where my work is, some places had power and were open for business! The few restaurants that were open were PACKED as people were looking for a hot meal. On the way home, we noticed the Chinese restaurant down the street from my complex was open. They didn’t have power, but they use gas cookers, so they were open and cooking away! There were a lot of people waiting, but not as bad as the crazy packed few restaurants we saw on the main highway earlier. So we got some yummy Chinese takeout. About maybe 30 minutes after getting back home… my power came back on! I couldn’t believe it. But I’m one of the few lucky ones right now… more than half the county still doesn’t have power and they don’t expect it to be fully restored until this weekend. More than half the state doesn’t have power right now. Irma was one big storm that affected all of Florida in some way. It’s one for the record books.
As of Tuesday, my work still didn’t have power, so I spent part of the day relaxing and getting things back in order at home. My patio was covered in dirt/debris that I had to sweep away before I could put my furniture back out there. I don’t think my patio has been this clean since I moved in! Took a walk around the block again and the Walgreens next door to my complex was open, but the McDonald’s and shopping center with a Big Lots across the street were closed. The Dominos Pizza and local bar that are also next door to my complex were also open (Dominos had a sign on their door saying they only had cheese & pepperoni pizzas and only doing carryout only, no delivery). The Publix supermarket about a mile up the road was open (running on a generator). So it’s still hit and miss all over the place. It’ll still be at least a few days before things are really back to normal around here, and even longer for other parts of the state.
If you’d like to make a donation to Hurricane Irma relief efforts (not just in Florida but the Caribbean islands that were also hit hard by the storm) , you can learn more and do so at the following links (or you can donate to the charity of your choice):
Convoy of Hope (they’re sending meals to people in Haiti)
Feeding Florida (they work with food banks across the state)