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After Hurricane Irma in Florida

After Hurricane Irma in Florida

After Hurricane Irma in Florida – Miracles Galore

Well, she wasn’t as bad as expected, but she wasn’t great either.  Let me begin by acknowledging the twelve people that died as a result of Hurricane Irma here in the state of Florida, some of which were due to post-storm challenges including oppressive heat, carbon monoxide poisoning from generators and brush-clearing accidents.  We sadly mourn all of those that died after Hurricane Irma in Florida, with a special tribute to two law enforcement officials that had a head on collision while driving to and from their shifts at the onset of the storm.  There is also a criminal investigation underway for 5 senior citizens that died over the last day at a nursing home in Hollywood, Florida.

As I had referenced in an earlier post “Hurricane Irma Prep“, Floridians had prepared far better than they had for any hurricane in the history of the state.  Those in evacuation areas (we weren’t in one) had for the most part evacuated as mandated.  Those that were in mandatory evacuation areas that could not leave the state, heeded the warnings and fled to shelters.  The shelters in our county were completely full, as they were in other counties across the state.  The shelters being filled to capacity was unprecedented in the state of Florida.

This was primarily a wind event, and secondarily a water/storm surge danger.  Because most in the storm surge risk areas had evacuated, human risk was mitigated.  What most of us didn’t expect was the excessive number of tornado warnings and actual touch downs, six to be specific throughout the state.  Being in South Florida, we knew there was a tornado risk, as we were on the northeast side of the storm – often referred to as the “dirty side” of a hurricane.  There was some damage here in South Florida, as a tornado hit land just north of us in Boca Raton and south of us in Fort Lauderdale proper.   We were in the interior master closet of a concrete block home at 4:00 a.m.  We take warnings seriously, and gratefully encountered no damage whatsoever.   But others in Central Florida did not have the same experience.   The greatest tornado damage came from 85 mph winds in Palm City, and was comprised mostly of mobile home damage.  Despite six mobile homes being completely destroyed there were no injuries reported.  Every person I speak to has a testimony of “miracles” and having experienced God’s mercy.

The Florida power company for over half of the state,  Florida Power and Light (FPL) had pre-staged recovery efforts and were successfully pulling homes that had lost power on to other parts of the grid, restoring power even as Irma was clearing through South Florida.  A close personal friend is in management with FPL and we know they are literally working around the clock to restore power across the state.  Their trucks are out in great numbers as of yesterday, as well as those of neighboring states.   As of today at noon, they had restored power to 60% of the 6+ million homes and businesses without power.  Some of the remaining homes are without power only due to transformers being buried under trees.

At the end of the day, most cities in Florida face significant but manageable tree and debris removal.  If you take a minute to drive through neighborhoods, one is constantly astounded at the number of “near misses”.  There are large trees that went down.  Most of which did not end up on homes.  A few empty cars were victim to falling trees, but there is such a negligible amount of serious damage.  I hear story after story about how a 50 foot tree “just missed” a home or business by a few feet, although a friend’s mother did have a large tree fall directly on her home, thankfully with no injuries.  A true blessing.

A few cities in south Florida remain on a boil water alert, but most of the water plants are running and filtering on generators or have had power restored in entirety.  Our neighbors to the extreme north (Jacksonville) and south (select Florida Keys and Miami Beach) have flooding to deal with, but even there the floodwaters have mostly receded, with downtown Jacksonville being the exception.

Many had fled north to Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, only to find themselves in the path of Irma.  Jacksonville experienced horrific flooding and then Georgia and South Carolina encountered storm surge, downed power lines and massive tree damage.  I just got off the phone with a good friend near Cashiers, NC and they are on their third day without power. In the city of Atlanta the wind gusts reached 64 mph and power outages occurred across the city.  Now all of those residents face the challenge of returning home to Florida, and must cautiously navigate I-95 and 75 to return home safely.  Some of which have found themselves in worse shape in these northern states than they would have been in their Florida homes.  Not that they could have anticipated any of that.

All said, there is a resounding sense of awe and gratitude across the state for what we did NOT experience as a result of Category 4 Hurricane Wilma.  Most of the photos shown on the national news are literally the worst of the worst – not representative of most of the state after Hurricane Irma.  Thanks be to God.

 

 

 


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