Some Info on Hurricane Irma
Earlier this week, Cant Stop The Macedonia Signal posted an essay asking Florida members to check in after hurricane Irma. I suspect we may not hear from all right away as much of Florida experienced power outages. I am a native Floridian, having lived all but the first two years of my life in the state. I take hurricanes very seriously although my home town where I grew up, St. Pete has been spared from a major hit since 1921.
Prior to Irma, more than one in four Floridians were told to evacuate. There are many people who live in mobile homes in Florida and therefore are vulnerable to high winds. However the biggest problem is that the population is heavily clustered along the coastal areas which means dealing with storm surge. Storm surge is extremely deadly and happens quite quickly. More people die from water in hurricanes than from wind.
I am not in Florida right now, but both my husband and I have most of our family there. Below is my account based upon what I know from our family.
Although hurricane Irma came up along the west coast, there was heavy damage everywhere to the east of the eyewall, including serious storm surges in the Miami area and in Jacksonville. The strongest part of a hurricane is along the east side with the northeast quadrant inflicting the most damage from wind, storm surge and tornadoes. At one point, there were 100 tornadoes or water spouts (tornadoes over water) spotted in the Brevard County area which is on the east coast south of Daytona Beach. One tornado did touch down at Palm Bay.
Hurricane Irma made one landfall in the Keys and then a second one at Marco Island near Naples in southwest Florida where it caused heavy damage from both wind and storm surges. It was originally predicted to make landfall in the Tampa Bay area but it tracked inland to the east of Tampa and spared Tampa, St. Pete, and Clearwater catastrophic damage because they were on the west side of Irma.
My sister and most of her family live in St Pete or St Pete Beach. Most of them evacuated except for two nephews who were in a high rise in downtown St Pete. The rest went north to Charlotte NC. All of them are reported safe and it appears that their homes were spared major damage.
My mother lives inland in Polk County. She resides in a high rise independent living facility which has its own generators and emergency plans. The generators allow them to keep the dining room operational and the common areas lit. Polk County was on the east side of the eye and I have read that there was extensive damage there. I have not heard from my mother as she does not have a cell phone and her land line is down, but I felt that she was in a very secure location in a fortress like building, so I am not going to worry. She told me before the storm that she would call me when she is able to do so.
The rest of our family is in the Tallahassee area which ended up being on the west side of Irma, although it was originally predicted to get a direct hit. Tallahassee is a "Tree City USA" community and so with any major storm or a strong sneeze, the power goes out due to downed trees. We have talked with family and the power is out and many roads are closed due to fallen trees, but no real damage to persons or property has been reported.
Overall, my family came through Irma better than any of us could have expected. I talked with my sister today and we wondered why the Tampa Bay area seems to dodge hurricanes since the last one to hit St Pete directly was in 1921. I am not sure if it is luck or geography (perhaps something to do with the Gulf Stream?) or a combination of both.