On Sunday, September 10th, 2017, Hurricane Irma tore through Southwest Florida as a category 4 hurricane. She was an angry storm.
Our office is located in Naples, Florida, which was directly in Irma's path. She smashed into our area at around 2pm in earnest. The winds built slowly over the course of the early afternoon. It was a gradual process, and due to the tremendous size of the storm, it took a long time for her full fury to be felt. By the time the wall of the eye moved over us in the late afternoon hours, we were feeling gusting winds in the neighborhood of 142mph.
There are no words to describe what it's like to look out on a hurricane of that magnitude. The sheer sustained force that it was able to throw at such a massive area certainly served to put us squarely in our place in the universe, small and insignificant.
Just when we thought that the house would not be able to get any worse, we entered the eye of the storm and a complete and utter calm descended on us. Light streamed from above, the birds came out and the air was filled with the strong scent of the ocean. We managed to get out and take a look at the damage, which was significant. Trees were shattered and strewn about the neighborhood. Pool cages and fencing were shredded and mangled. Clay roof tiles were smashed by debris or physically torn free by the wind. We had a brief respite of about an hour while the eye slowly passed us by.
Fortunately for us, the storm weakened considerably by the time the eye passed. When the back side of the wall hit us, the winds had weakened to around 75mph, relatively balmy weather in comparison, for sure. Throughout the night the winds slowly died down. The much-feared storm surge was greatly curtailed by the weakened state of the storm on the back end.
The aftermath was significant.
The vast majority of people in Florida were without power and it took days for even a small percentage to get it back. Water services ceased for many people and for those still with water, a boil water advisory was in place. The weather peaked in the high 90's with high humidity. The lack of A/C made those healthy enough to endure it exceptionally uncomfortable, and for those who were not healthy enough, it threatened their lives due to heat exhaustion. 28 people died in Florida as a result of the storm.
Many of the coastal areas were flooded. Thousands lost their homes. Irma took her toll on the entire state.
Most of the HDD Broker team was able to evacuate ahead of the storm. Luckily, none of our homes sustained significant structural damage, nor did our office. Some of our folks were not able to access their homes due to flooding or fallen trees, and one of our team members had a tree fall on his roof. We've all lost power, and continue to struggle to access basic essentials like gas, groceries and drinkable water. But we count ourselves blessed in the wake of one the biggest storms to have come out of the Atlantic.
For those that lost everything, the need is great. We have partnered with Avow Foundation to help our local community with Hurricane relief. In addition to providing shelter, food, medical services and grief support, they've also been giving 100's of free meals to first responders, caregivers and patients every day. Please support the children, seniors, and veterans that have been most impacted by this devastating storm.
Many thanks to all of you who reached out to us with thoughts and prayers! We are truly grateful for your partnerships and friendships.