A week ago today, we were all anxiously awaiting the arrival of category 5 hurricane Irma. It had barreled through the Caribbean, unleashing its 150 mile per hour winds on the islands of St. Marteen, Barbuda, and the British and US Virgin Islands. News that came from the islands in the coming days showed the destruction that was left behind by the storm.
Then it set i went through Puerto Rico, Haiti and Cuba with an ominous forecast that had spaghetti models targeting the entire state of Florida next. Worst of all, the storm was not only one of the strongest storms but it was so large that it covered the entire state. Schools closed on Thursday and the exodus from low lying areas began. Residents from barrier islands as well as the Florida Keys were forewarned of the risks of storm surge and mandatory evacuations were issued. With the initial forecast of the storm hitting the eastern coast of Florida, a lot of people traveled north and west to evacuate.
When the storm hit Cuba, which was a surprise to forecasters, it lost some strength but also became more erratic. It hit the Florida Keys as a category 4 and headed north. Now, it was forecast to hug the west coast of Florida instead. It was then forecast to track WNW but instead jogged to the east and sliced the state first as a category 3 then 2 and eventually as a category 1. We were on the NE side of the storm which is the “dirty” side inherent of a counterclockwise turning hurricane. Because of the size of the storm, even though we were far from the eye of the storm, we were battered by its outer bands from about 9 pm on Sunday night until about 7 am on Monday morning. Tornado warning alerts kept ringing on our phones and kept us on edge.
For only the third time since we moved to Melbourne in 1995 have we ridden a storm in the house. We’ve lived in our current house for 15 years now and this is the first time we’ve stayed during a hurricane. We always go to a shelter or a friend’s house. We have two large oak trees that is right next to the garage that I always feel will crash into the house. Also, because our house is a frame house. For some reason, for the strongest one and one that was actually initially set to move over us, we decided to stay.
Prayer, that was our weapon this time. That, and we have 22 chickens that we cannot leave the house for a long time nor can we bring to any evacuation center. So we boarded up the house, bought some provisions, gassed up our cars, filled in propane tanks and bought batteries. We were prepared for the storm by Saturday night.
I posted several videos about the preparation before the storm and during the storm. I am sharing the video in the aftermath. We can say that we escaped the wrath of the storm and feel very blessed. Power was restored after 12 hours after losing it in the middle of the night and at the height of the storm. Internet came back after 3 days. There are still millions who are without power, and friends who have not been able to reach their home in the Keys. The recovery from Hurricane Irma will take years. I know the human spirit is resilient but we will always remember the days Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean and Florida.