As much as we rightfully spend tremendous effort in the safety aspect of preparation, the logistics of recovery is critical, especially in this case when such a huge amount of the state was hit. I will briefly talk about the storm itself. With the hurricane shutters, you are basically enclosed in the house although this type of shutter allows in a little light top and bottom. Since they are metal though, you also get the rattle as well as the sound of the wind and rain. We closed the last shutters about 4:00 Saturday afternoon as the wind picked up to near tropical storm strength. Irma was so large, that even though she made landfall about 80 miles south at 9:00 Sunday morning, we could not open the shutters until daybreak today. The main impact to us started about noon Sunday and went for around six hours, but the winds were still dangerous into the night. The remaining time was because of lingering bands passing through. Somehow in all of this we kept power and were/are very thankful for that.
Damage to most of our neighborhood was slight, lots of downed trees and debris, but few structural issues. The critical thing is to try and stay off the roads so the first responders, cleanup and power crews can do their jobs without interference. Having enough groceries, medicine, etc., on hand to stay out of those places for a full three days is also helpful. Shelves can only be restocked at a certain rate and allowing those supplies to start flowing normally again is important. Do you risk going a little stir-crazy, particularly if you don’t have power? Yes. Being out in a mass of people possibly vying for items still in short supply isn’t really a better alternative.
The state, counties, cities, and major players such as Florida Power and Light and big retailers (to include gas stations) have done an admirable job of being ready for the recovery and allowing them to get to it is key. Sadly, there is also the reality of looting and there have already been some thieves caught thanks to so many more video cameras than in the past.
In going back to the question about whether or not to evacuate, being able to return to your home is a factor. Right now, a lot of people can’t have access to their homes for today and possibly into tomorrow because the roads have to be cleared. Downed trees and power lines are the main obstacles. When you have spent days prepping and days in a shelter or on the road, the extra delay is incredibly frustrating.
More tomorrow as I go down to keep reassembling the house.