Hurricane Irma

Monday, September 18, 2017

When I moved back to Florida a few months ago, not once did the threat of a hurricane cross my mind.

I've sailed through the aftermath of  a CAT 2 hurricane flooding where channel markers are gone, you're guessing as to the new flooded height of the bridge clearances, the water looking as though you could sail right over to people's garages, and even stayed through a Cat 1 in the Keys... but nope, never crossed my mind. When I picked out my new Florida apartment it also didn't cross my mind to check if the place had hurricane shutters or hurricane resistant windows, let alone a place on stilts. (I came from living on the 11th floor in DC and was so sick of stairs/elevators so thought ground floor was amazing at the time!) I wanted to be close to the water...

The weekend before Irma hit I was in Homestead doing a few charters for Biscayne National Park Institute and visiting friends in the Keys - the Hurricane far from all of our thoughts. That Monday I went cycling on Sanibel with a newly acquainted old Sea Base friend who was visiting his family from Miami. Our half day ride included not only catching up with what we've been up to, but also of what our plans were and how everyone was going to get supplies and communicate via VHF radio when the cell towers go out for a few days. At that time, Irma's path was predicted to go over the Eastern coast of Florida. 

The following day at work my boss gave me an opportunity to evacuate early, knowing that I had wanted to visit family in WV in the coming weeks anyway. I jumped at the opportunity, whether Irma would be a direct hit or not on the West coast just seeing how big and strong she was I didn't want to be anywhere close to her path. I left that day at 2pm from work, packed up my apartment putting my valuables locked in my closet and gathered up my cats, important papers, and nice bicycle. 

Our usual 16 hour trip took us over 20, and that was with us leaving on the Tuesday before the storm. Gas stations were just starting to get crazy, stores were already out of water. 

I spent my time in WV glued to the weather channel and myradar app watching Irma's path and contacting friends - everyone evacuated North except for a few of my new coworker friends. 

After the storm hit the news moved with the storm, hardly relaying what had happened in its path before hand. I did not know if I'd be coming home to something similar to the Keys destruction or if we had gotten the 13' storm surge that they were predicting. With my apartment being a 10 minute bike ride to the beach I wasn't too hopeful. 

My parents drove down with me loading their truck with extra gas cans, cleaning supplies, non-perishable foods, etc. 

We were so lucky that the storm lost half of its eye as it hit just south of us in Naples. It was devastaing for Naples, but we had virtually no flooding and mostly vegetative destruction. It took down over half of the large trees I loved around my apartment complex and few of our car ports. The buildings themselves did great with only two having roof damage. 

By the time we were able to get back into the state and my home (4 days after the eye of Irma crossed its path) my apartment complex had done an amazing job of clearing the road ways and cutting up most of the larger trees. We picked up brush outside my place, cleared a few parking spots, and helped to get my apartment back in order, 'un-hurricane' proofing it.

While my parents were visiting we also rode our bikes around Ft Myers and Sanibel checking out the damage. We were so lucky that the damage was minimal! 

The Keys however were not as fortunate and am planning to help next weekend with cleanup. All of my friends from the keys however are safe and all have their boats still floating. Both Sea Base locations also made it through the storm very well with little structural damage and all boats floating. 

Until next time!

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