Personal Stories with Minnesota Connections to Hurricane Irma
Hurricane Irma made the southern part of our country brace for serious impact and destruction. Hailing to be one of the worst storms in history, the anticipation of it caused lots of strife and worry. Some areas were spared but some were not. I reached out to some friends that used to live in Minnesota and have relocated to Florida as well as received an update from the Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) team that got deployed to help with Hurricane Irma. What's truly inspiring are the stories of kindness and selflessness coming out of this storm.
Tony Benson, RPU spokesperson said "Crews are in Cartersville, GA waiting out the storm. They'll leave for Kissimmee tomorrow morning. They are seeing the bad weather and wind where they are but not as bad as Florida of course."
"Everyone here at RPU is very supportive and proud of our crew that is headed to Kissimmee. We have heard from many residents in FL and they are looking forward to seeing the MN crews and are thankful for the help getting power back."
"A crew of technicians from East Coast Diesel in Durham NC was sent down to provide support for one of our customers who deals with bank security and needed fuel to continue to operate during the event of a power outage. I was in Orlando while the hurricane passed over Florida, and as it got closer it was a mix of exciting and absolutely terrifying. It really started to show signs of a massive hurricane around 8pm on Sunday. To see our hotel room windows bowing in and out, fearing they were going to shatter at any minute. The power went out at around 10pm and I decided to go outside to get a better perspective of the storm. Once outside I got an appreciation of the magnitude of the storm. I could hear the freight trains people talk about from the winds. Shortly after, I heard a loud explosion from what I believe was an electrical explosion at a fuel station and the sky lit up like a fire ball. At that point I felt it best to stay inside and remain mainly in the hallways vs in the room for fear of the windows breaking. Most of the people in the hotel were calm and in the hallways trying to get a view outside to see what was going on. The next morning was pretty calm outside, a little rain and light wind. Our crew drove to each of our customers location in Orlando and Tampa. We witnessed a lot of minor damage like downed trees and other yard debris, along with some major damage like the sides of hotel walls missing and large hi way signs ripped down. There was very little flooding that I saw in either of those 2 cities. We are now currently regrouping and finding out how best to help the people in Florida. Most of the major roads are open, while the bridges are still locked out as damage is being assessed." - Tylor H. (Huntley, Minnesota)
Cape Coral, Florida
"We are relieved and anxious to go home. Our home was expected to have 10 feet or more of storm surge flooding. Thankfully Irma slowed to a 2. My friends and neighbors are all so thankful for everyone's prayers. Praise God we've been spared. We were hosted by a family in Atlanta who I've met once Facebook - we both adopted kids from Russia but had never met. We're stuck here until the tropical storm passes. We haven't seen our home but the reports from our area are good. Marco Island and Naples took the brunt of the storm- we're waiting to see what happened just like everyone else. My husband evacuated at the last minute and stayed in Orlando. He said it was scary because the storm passed over, but he was safe. He's headed home now." Emily T. (Monticello, Minnesota)
"I'm fine, my apartment in Bradenton on the manatee river never even lost power. Yesterday morning the storm track showed the eye going right over my building. So with the threat of a 12 ft storm surge and panicking relatives and an evacuation order, I left and went to my cousin's house 10 miles away. We were prepared for the worst as we watched the weather reports of the keys and Miami being devastated. As the storm made landfall in Naples we had hope that the storm would weaken as it headed North, we had even better news as the storm also went east. By the time the eye made it this far north around midnight, the storm was a level 1, we still had power and we thought everything was over. We all decided to go to bed, then the power went out lol. The winds continued throughout the night and the power never came back at my cousin's house. I went home a 7am, some debris in the roads, but not bad. Life for me is back to normal. People in Naples probably have a different story. I think more stories will come out as people return home. The local government did a great job on evacuation order. Thousands of people left the state and won't get back for days." - Dave E. (Rochester, Minnesota)
Apollo Beach, Florida
"My kids and I are doing great. The preparation and unknown before the storm were definitely the hardest part. Thinking you are ready but not truly knowing if your house is ready to keep your family safe....more stress in this last week than I've ever experienced. Before the storm supplies like gas, water, food or plywood were so difficult to find. And now that the storm passed everything is closed. We got lucky and the eye missed us even though up until about 11pm we thought it would pass right over our house. We still had power and water the entire time. I have a friend who's family is South of us by a couple hours and he still hasn't heard how they are doing." - Kim C. (Spring Valley, Minnesota)
If you'd like to help with those impacted by Hurricane Irma, here's a great list from USA Today.