Most models took the storm into the Florida Keys and up the spine of Florida and Irma pretty much followed the model’s path, tearing through the Keys and hitting Marco Island and Naples hard with Category Four force winds. Then she veered inland, taking a wide bend around our area.
We were as prepared as we could be. We were boarded up and hunkered down. My husband replaced the smoke detector batteries and saw to other small details. All alternative lighting and electronics were fully charged, all documents and papers were stored in a plastic (covered and locked) tub. I’d turned the a/c way down to 65 degrees, so when we lost power, the house was cool until the early morning. Our youngest son rode out the storm with us. He’d pushed for us to evacuate, but I felt confident that the storm would be a strong Cat 2, possibly a weak 3 (turned out to be a weak 2), so he stayed, too.
The first tropical wave hit around 10 AM, then we had an hour of quiet, then a stronger feeder band. The wind continued to build, so we ate a spaghetti supper at 2:30 and started the dishwasher.
The power went out at 3:20 in the afternoon. No internet. No lights. No warning. Fortunately, the dishwasher had almost completed its cycle, so we started with full bellies. Still, being plunged in sudden darkness (the windows and doors were boarded up, remember) is an uneasy moment. We easily reached our lighting because I’d placed a light source in each room, within easy reach of bedside, side tables, counter, bathroom sink, so the lights were not a problem.
Squalls came through more frequently and greater intensity, rain came in sideways. Lots of debris fell in the roads. Gusts of wind blew the fireplace damper open with a great clatter several times. That made us jump! Some power lines went down but ours did not. The water in our bay receded as the storm sucked it up. Dire warnings of catastrophic storm surge that would return with the receded water (and even more), did not happen because as the storm passed out of Fort Myers as a Category Three hurricane (it hit Naples at Category 4 strength), it weakened and veered inland, arcing away from our area.
We did not know that at the time, of course, so we sat around and talked about artificial intelligence and whether Snowden was a traitor or a patriot, waiting for the storm to hit. It actually felt cozy (but a little warm since the a/c went off with the power). I knew the windows were boarded with ¾” plywood (not ½”), my roof was two years old and my husband had installed extra hurricane ties (straps that hold the trusses to the rafters and walls). Around midnight, we checked our phones, saw that the storm was past us, so we went to bed.
We experienced a Category 2 hurricane but it was not terribly ferocious. Our neighborhood has experienced more flooding from past tropical storms and, unlike Category One storms, where I heard winds that sounded like the rumble of a train or large dump truck, this blow, while determined, did not sound ominous. The loudest sounds were tree limbs falling on the roof, but even they slid off without causing damage. I was glad we boarded up, though, because we heard several “thunks” against the windows during the night.
The aftermath continues tomorrow.