Hurricane Irma 


Bonnie Boerema

 
© Copyright 2017 by Bonnie Boerema

 

Photo of blowing palm trees.
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Naples, Florida – The meteorologists started warning on Monday,
September 4th that Hurricane Irma was heading toward Florida, and people should start evacuating. On Monday, Tuesday , and Wednesday many did start evacuating on Highway 75 to stay with family and friends.

My husband, a Vietnam Vet Army Ranger, and survivalist wanted to stay put in our condo, and tough it out. The weathermen couldn’t seem to make up their minds if Irma would hit the East or West coast of Florida. Finally on Saturday, when they saw Irma almost ready to hit Key West, they confirmed that it was heading up the west coast of Florida.

We moved to Florida three years ago, in 2014 from Missouri. I’d never experienced a hurricane, and didn’t know what to expect. Hearing all the hype and scary forecasts, I was both scared and worried.

When Governor Scott had a press conference Saturday, and told everybody to get out now, in case of a surge, I did get scared. But the options to evacuate were not that good. The gas stations on Highway 75 were running out of gas. Most of the hotels were closed, and the restaurants were all closing,

We decided that we would stay in our 2nd floor condo, and tough it out. Our family and friends from all over the country were texting, emailing and calling. They were worried sick about us.


By Sunday noon when the fury of Hurricane Irma became loud and
unrelenting, we realized the force of 140 mph winds was coming at us head on. I was jittery and nervous when the first eye wall was going over us, and it got worse and worse.

Kenny, being a survivalist, was standing in our entrance way by the front door, taking videos of the storm.

Our safe spot was the shower stall in our inner bathroom, in the center of our condo. He didn’t get in it once. I went in there for ten minutes. Our air conditioner was already off, and I was getting very hot in there. I spent the duration of the storm in our bedroom.

By 4:30 pm Sunday afternoon the first eye wall was over. All of a sudden, the winds died down, and it was very quiet. We breathed a sigh of relief, but knew more winds were coming before 8:00 pm that night.

As soon as the first eye wall was over, Kenny called me to come and look out the lanai window. An alligator was lying by the shore behind us. He looked like he’d had it, fighting the ferocious wind and in the lake behind us. The birds were strange Monday morning after the storm. They were flying into each other, and in circles. Their equilibrium seemed to be really messed up.

The second eye wall was mild compared to the first one. After it passed, we were relieved and very grateful that we survived a hurricane 4 storm. We both were all right, and our condo had little, or no damage. Our Mercedes vehicle came through sitting in front of our condo, with only one little dent on the driver’s side.

We were trying to make the best of having no power, with only junk food and bottled water. Our lanai was pleasant in the mornings from the breeze of the lake behind us. We ate out breakfast there. About 6:00 pm we’d start sitting on our front porch. We could get a breeze out there, and it was almost 90 degrees in our condo.

Conditions this week after the hurricane in Southwest Florida, while it’s still hot weather, have been difficult. All the restaurants in Marco Island and Naples were closed when The Brewery in Marco opened. We ate there Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to get us a balanced hot meal and cold drinks.

LEDC and NPL are saying they won’t be finished with the East Coast until this weekend. Then they’ll start working on the West Coast’s power. How very encouraging of them.

By Wednesday, the gas stations had gas, with cars lined up for a mile or two. We had to go to Lowe’s to recharge our cell phones. There was a long line of cars, just getting into Lowe’s parking lot.

Marco Island and Naples both look like a war zone, there’s so much devastation. The concrete light poles in Marco Island were split in two. Chunks of sidewalk in Naples were standing up, pulled out of the ground. Big trees fell over, or were uprooted out of the ground.

Just had my breakfast, a danish roll and a warm diet coke. We’re out of ice. Kenny went to Walmart to get a few things. Hopefully they’re open. Wednesday they weren’t. It’s 8:30 am and our thermostat says 83 degrees already in our living room.

It’s now 87 degrees in our living room at 3:30 pm There’s no ice in this house. My patience is beginning to wear thin. We did go into Marco Island at noon today for lunch. We needed to both get out our sultry condo, and get a hot meal, cold drinks and cool air.

Thursday morning – Kenny just brought me a hot cup of coffee, Being a coffee fiend, I thought I died and went to heaven.

All conveniences and services have changed since Irma. All restaurants have been closed since Friday, September 8th. They’re struggling to to reopen with the overwhelming amount of work facing them. They’re also losing money by being closed.

All of the usual stops for most people, Publix and Winn-Dixie have reopened. Walmart is still closed, and won’t be open until Sunday
or Monday. All other restaurants in Marco Island and Naples are closed. That includes McDonald’s, Burger King and Subway.

There are still lines a mile or two long at the gas stations. Many people, whose tanks were one half full or less, were frustrated as hell, going through this.

Life certainly isn’t back to normal with no power, and another full week until they have everybody’s power on. All of our laundry is piled up in the hamper, with all the sweating going on. I washed out a few tops, shorts and underwear for me. Kenny said he didn’t need anything washed.

It’s a waiting, wondering game with the electric company. Every day you think maybe today will be the day they get it on, and it isn’t. It tests your patience big time with the high humidity and sweltering heat.

Friday morning – September 15th

Stan, our maintenance man just told me the electric company is working on our grid today, and our power may be back on tonight. I sure hope he knows what he’s talking about.

If your power’s off about a week, you realize real quick how lucky we are in thermostat U.S.A. With not just electric power, which turns on our air conditioner, refrigerator, stove, microwave, toast, blow dryer, lights, T.V. and lights. We have many wonderful restaurants, stores, and many creature comforts that we all take for granted.

Funny Stories from Irma

One man walked into a gas station, and asked if they have any cokes. The manager said, “Do you know where you’re at, you’re in hell.”

My husband, Kenny is a retired cop. He was driving into Walmart gas station to get us two cups of coffee. They had cops watching and controlling the cars who’d been waiting for an hour or more. One
stopped him and said, “What are you doing?” He thought he was trying to pull a fast one, and root in ahead of the line. Kenny said, “I’m going to that parking place right there, and get get two cups of coffee.” He spotted Kenny’s police stickers on our car, and said, “Go ahead.”

Friday, 3:30 p.m.

Our lights just came back on. Yeah! We’re back in business. Back to our normal routine. We’ll be heading to Winn-Dixie to restock our fridge with all our favorite foods. Rocky Road ice cream will be one of mine. Now I can wash all of our sweaty clothes heaped up in the hamper.

It’s absolutely wonderful to watch television feel cool, and be back among the living, and not living in a primitive country. We can go back to hot meals once a day.

It looks like our long ordeal is over. We rode out the hurricane right in our condo. For me, the five days and nights since the storm have been worse than the hurricane.

We moved to Florida three years ago from Missouri, in 2014. Ten years ago, in 2007 I went through seven days and nights without power from an ice storm in January, when the temperature was was 25 degrees. I think that was easier on me than this experience. Probably because I’m ten years older.

I hope our government officials learned some lessons from Hurricane Irma. To organize and make preparations to get on top of the situation earlier, in order to help all the citizens of Florida as our climate continues to change.


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