Irma’s Wrath Part 2: Hurricane Aftermath
By Katie Hurrey
Miami took this one seriously. There was something about Irma’s 155mph winds bearing down on South Florida that made us believe she was coming, even as she raged towards the Caribbean Islands hundreds of miles away. Six days before the storm hit, water had disappeared from the store shelves and gas was scarce as everyone waited in line to top up their vehicles so they could make a run for it. I went to top up my tank at 4:15 on Tuesday morning correctly thinking it might be an opportune time, and when I passed the same gas station on my way to work at 9:00 am it had run out.
After our first tornado drill on Saturday evening, we were ready for the next warning to hit our phones at 7 am Sunday, Irma kindly let us sleep through the night before she brought too much craziness to our shutters. This time our closets were stocked with everything we could possibly need and we were all safely ensconced in record time (having to pick up the older of the two dogs since she wasn’t going to move anywhere fast!) We were especially fortunate to keep our power throughout – it did flicker off then on again quite a few times and every time we were prepared for it to disappear, hastily making cups of coffee lest they would be our last.
In our tornado closets, we were still watching live television coverage, seeing the location of the water funnel making its way towards us, just down the road….
When we emerged from the house late on Sunday evening, it was apparent the majority of the damage was caused by fallen trees, thankfully there was no flooding in this area. Miraculously the one huge tree we had been concerned about next door was uprooted but missed our roof, next door’s roof and every car parked in its radius. We felt truly thankful we had been spared the eye landfall, our wind gusts measured up to 98mph here, 90 miles away from the eye wall. The sheer scope of Irma was incredible, I can’t imagine being closer to her center where the only plus is that it doesn’t last as long, we were getting hurricane force gusts and rain for over twelve hours.
With curfews in place and bridges closed to Miami Beach, I was not able to survey my condo until yesterday (Tuesday). I had hurricane impact windows installed two weeks beforehand and wasn’t planning on putting them to the test so soon! I opened my door with more than a little trepidation. Somehow a huge amount of water had come in under the windows and flooded my wood floors, causing irreversible damage. The wood is warped and bowed and discolored ten feet inside the apt…so now begins the communicating with the insurance company and choosing a practical tile floor. We had lost power at my apartment building sometime during the storm and the latest FPL information tells me I can hope to get it back by Sunday evening, just over a week after it went out. I’m getting concerned about my paintings and clothing in this heat and humidity but I’m very lucky to be able to stay at my friend’s place and have A/C, hot meals, and hot showers while I wait!
There are four of us here (plus two lovely doggies), all choreographers/ rehearsal directors and all leaders. We’ve now been living in close proximity for seven days and remarkably are relatively sane. Being mindful of each other’s space, and contributing our particular strengths to this team effort has been key, and knowing when to relinquish that leadership power! We have been blessed to have a safe place during Irma, and to stick to our plan to ride it out, while so many others were persuaded to flee north on overcrowded highways and are now battling traffic and gas shortages to make it home. I am naturally upset about my floors but reminded that there are so many others worse off than me. Seeing the photos of the devastation to the keys and the Caribbean Islands is sobering. We were very prepared for Irma and it served us well: make your plan, and execute it!