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#286283 - 09/17/17 05:08 PM A View from Naples (Hurricane Irma)
Dagny Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1916
Loc: Washington, DC
Hurricane Irma was the first time I've had immediate family members in the path of an impending catastrophe. My brother and niece live in Naples, Florida. Their experience has been an interesting prism through which to view the subject of preparedness and survival. And the thought process of evacuation.

Will preface with the good news that they are fine. They rode out the storm in a friend's 10th floor condo on Pelican Bay, where they stayed for a few more days. Their home is on a canal and given the forecasts of a 10'-15' flood surge they wisely opted to vacate. Thankfully, Irma came inland which lessened the surge to 5' and that kept the canal out of their house (came within 6" of the back door). However, the wind relocated part of their roof to the street. They remain grateful that the property destruction was not much, much worse.

They are very thankful to be alive and unharmed. They know full well how much worse things would have been had Irma come ashore as a Cat 5, especially if they had been on the northeast side of it (where a hurricane's winds tend to be the worst).

My brother is a fairly preparedness-minded person but not a devotee of the subject. Yet six days before (Monday) predicted landfall, he had all the cars fuel tanks topped off, gas cans filled, the generator ready, had been to the grocery for more non-perishable foods and more water bottles. Was rounding up his window-boarding stuff. And he was considering their evacuation options. That far out, forecasting is not yet a precise science, but it was pretty certain that Irma would run into Florida or the Carolinas and soon it seemed it'd go north up the peninsula and it was definitely an enormous storm -- much wider than the distance from Miami on the Atlantic coast to Naples on the Gulf coast. Everyone was likely to get high winds and a lot of rain and possibly surge.


EVACUATION

At that time (Labor Day) and for the next few days, media reports were zooming in on Miami as the bullseye. On Thursday morning, the National Hurricane Center reported that Irma's track had shifted 40 miles west. My brother messaged, for the first time, that he was worried. News reports of fuel shortages on the roads north had been increasing since Wednesday. And Georgia and South Carolina were also in Irma's projected path -- hotels were booked to Atlanta -- so evacuation was, in his view (and mine), not necessarily the best option. They didn't evacuate.


48 HOURS TO LANDFALL

Friday morning it was clear they were going to stay in Naples. The rising surge predictions (10'-15') negated their original choice of alternative lodging. The 10th floor was higher than desired, 3rd would have been optimal, but the 10th it would be. They had a heckuva view, windowless interior rooms, a sturdy stairwell and a week to 10-days of supplies and a generator in the building to run one of the elevators..

With his own home boarded up and most of their furniture elevated on cinder blocks and other things they could not take with them stored as high up as possible in the house, they finished loading the cars full of other valuables, clothes, etc. They had decided to position the cars on the 3rd floor of a parking garage -- parking them in the middle of the structure. Another friend who was out of state (a lot of Naples condos are used seasonally) told my brother to use his 4x4 pickup truck so that's what they kept at the condo -- atop the two-story parking garage there. Btw, the truck survived fine while a Jeep parked nearby was made into a convertible by Irma.

My brother spent most of Saturday helping others get settled into wherever they were riding out the storm. After settling into the condo, he helped others in the building (there were about 10 others in the 20-story building) prepare their shelter space -- usually a walk-in closet.

They then had a huge dinner and tried to get a good night's sleep Saturday. Irma was expected to arrive around 3:00p Sunday.

Sunday morning, around 5:00a, we were texting back-and-forth. He gave me all their phone numbers and those of friends. I had the address of where they were staying and their house plugged into my phone's RadarScope app. We assumed they would lose power for at least a few days, as well as cell service.

They (my brother, niece and their friends) had a big breakfast and took long, hot showers. They then checked on others in the building and looked again at the stairwell situation, just in case.

They finished situating their windowless "safe" rooms, which included placing full-face motorcycle helmets, in case the condo windows blew out.


POWER GOES OUT

About one-hour before landfall, the power cut out for good. It has been flickering for half an hour. The power would remain off at the condo until Thursday night. The house got power back on Wednesday.


CELL SERVICE STAYED ON

This was unexpected and very welcome -- the cell service (they all have AT&T) stayed on the entire time, they never lost it. This allowed me to send them frequent screenshots of my RadarScope app which showed exactly where their condo was in relation to Irma's wind and rain bands, as well as the eyewall. The following day I was able to send them local news reports, which saved some of their battery charge. Btw, they went into the storm with multiple backup chargers.

My brother sent several videos of the escalating winds and rain as Irma neared Naples. I, and they, have quite a record of their experience.


SATELLITE PHONE


My brother travels overseas frequently and for that has a satellite phone plus three batteries for it. He used it at the house over the next couple days (no cell service there until Wednesday). Nice to have if their cell service had gone out but during the storm would have required standing next to a window.


THE EYEWALL

At the worst of it, they could feel the 20-story building shaking, ceiling lights swayed as if a moderate earthquake (he sent video). At one point he messaged: "The building is moving so much it feels like a ship at sea."

The top of a palm tree flew by the 10th floor. Vegetation plastered the windows.

During the tranquility of the eye, a neighbor sent a photo of my brother's roof in the street. Part of the roof.

As the backside of the storm began, they noticed one of the condo's floor-to-ceiling windows was wobbling. Most of the weather stripping had pealed off. It was in the master bedroom so they removed valuables and closed the door. Later, when the winds moderated, they duct taped the window to the frame. To their surprise, it never fell out.


THE NEXT DAY (Monday, September 11)

Naples was (and I think may still be) under curfew. That afternoon they were able to drive to the house. They patched over the hole in the roof with aluminum sheeting.


GOING FORWARD

They spent the rest of the week cleaning up the house. Last night was the first in the house. Today he was able to obtain some building supplies and is working on the roof. Thankfully, my brother was well-tutored in home-building and maintenance by my father and grandfather. He also inherited my grandfather's tools -- which are considerable. The only material thing my brother was concerned about during the storm was Papa's tools. They have much sentimental value as well as practical use.

As of yesterday, the only food the local Costco had was bananas. But other groceries have more. And some restaurants opened up. Fortunately, my brother has ample canned and other food and lots of bottled water.

It is a very, very difficult time in areas of Florida (and Texas, Louisiana, perhaps parts of Georgia and South Carolina) where people suffered extensive damage, may still be flooded and without power-water-sewer and don't have the resources to easily come back from this disaster.

Be ever grateful for every good day, and prepared for the days that aren't.

Thanks again to ETS (and Doug Ritter) for helping educate on preparedness and survival. I've sure learned a lot and am now able to share some of that knowledge with family and friends.


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#286284 - 09/17/17 05:14 PM Re: A View from Naples (Hurricane Irma) [Re: Dagny]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3314
Loc: USA
Thank you for this, Dagny.

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#286285 - 09/17/17 05:20 PM Re: A View from Naples (Hurricane Irma) [Re: chaosmagnet]
Dagny Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1916
Loc: Washington, DC
Originally Posted By: chaosmagnet
Thank you for this, Dagny.


My pleasure -- especially since they fared so well.

I'll be following up in this thread with more information and my brother's continued response -- not least of all, preparing for the next storm.

We're only half-way through the hurricane season in the U.S..



.

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#286286 - 09/17/17 05:59 PM Re: A View from Naples (Hurricane Irma) [Re: Dagny]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7198
Loc: southern Cal
Thank you Dagny for this gripping report and the excellent information. Glad all are well.

Not being concerned with hurricanes where I live, I am translating the experiences into strategies that will apply when I might face my local hazard - earthquakes.

ETS and those here providing useful information are really helpful in dealing with these situations.

ETS Rules!!
_________________________
Geezer in Chief

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#286287 - 09/17/17 06:51 PM Re: A View from Naples (Hurricane Irma) [Re: hikermor]
Dagny Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1916
Loc: Washington, DC
Originally Posted By: hikermor
Thank you Dagny for this gripping report and the excellent information. Glad all are well.

Not being concerned with hurricanes where I live, I am translating the experiences into strategies that will apply when I might face my local hazard - earthquakes.

ETS and those here providing useful information are really helpful in dealing with these situations.

ETS Rules!!


Yes, every disaster, no matter what the cause, can inform how we handle others.

I was thinking of earthquakes during this situation. My Wonder Years were growing up in Torrance, California, and though I was young I clearly remember waking up at 6:01 a.m. in February 1971 when the San Fernando quake (now referred to as the Sylmar Quake) struck. The aftershocks were scary for us (and our babysitters when my parents were out some evenings).

With hurricanes you can have several days warning (but possibly few options, depending on your circumstances) but earthquakes are out of the blue.

For their surprise and incredible capacity for widespread destruction, earthquakes are the worst Mother Nature can throw at us (well, other than extinction events....)


.

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#286288 - 09/17/17 07:01 PM Re: A View from Naples (Hurricane Irma) [Re: Dagny]
Dagny Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1916
Loc: Washington, DC
My brother is focusing most of his efforts at this time on fixing his roof (acquired some materials today) but we've also been discussing an after-action report with lessons learned and things-to-do. Based on our talks I've taken a first cut at it. Want to have a one-pager for quick reference and copied onto their phones (and mine) so they'll always have it with them. Here's where I'm at currently. It's predicated on a hurricane:


CASH — for food, gas, water, lodging

GAS — cars & gas cans

WATER — lots and lots of bottles plus Aquatainers, buckets, tub

ICE — coolers filled with ice (no beverages, just ice). Wrap coolers in Reflectix.

FOOD - canned/dry goods, freeze-dried, tortillas, bread, crackers, fruit, peanut butter, chips

COOKING - manual can opener, grill (briquettes or propane), matches, BIC lighters

LIGHT - flashlights, headlamps, candles

FIRST-AID - disinfectant, bandages, gauze, clean towels

MEDS - prescription and OTC (aspirin, ibuprofen, Benadryl)

SANITATION - portable loo, toilet paper, soap/shampoo

COMMS - walkie-talkies, AM/FM/SW radio, backup chargers for phones, sat-phone

BATTERIES - AA, AAA, CR123 —- solar charger ——

TOOLS & GEAR - duct tape, knives, saw/axe, prybar, hammer, screwdrivers, screws, nails

ROPE, etc. - guy line + heavy-duty, plastic sheeting

CAR STUFF - window washer fluid, microfiber towels, tow rope, tire compressor

PAPERS - wallets, passports, insurance, phone numbers printout (family, friends)



Days before landfall:

1 - prepare for flood, raise furniture, gather important documents. Sandbags.
2 - cash from ATM or bank. Photograph house inside and out, rooms, closets, garage
3 - confer with neighbors on their preps and plans
4 - check generator - top off gas, oil, etc.
5 - top off car fuel tanks and gas cans, check oil, tires, etc. Grocery store for canned and other dry goods. Cleaning supplies (bleach). Check battery supply, locate and re-org emergency supplies (flashlights, radio, etc). Boards/nails/screws for windows, etc.




.

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#286293 - 09/17/17 09:24 PM Re: A View from Naples (Hurricane Irma) [Re: Dagny]
Pete Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1372
Dagny - thanks for posting.
I'm sure your list will help folks in FLA - esp. first-timers. They have all had a one-time go-around with Irma. Sorry about the damage to your brother's house.

Yes ... more hurricanes on the way. We don't know where they will hit, but probably damage will be a bit more localized. Irma was huge.

Your brother's family was super-fortunate about the storm surge and the flooding from the canal. Six inches is very close. But I'm glad it all worked out for them.

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#286295 - 09/17/17 09:54 PM Re: A View from Naples (Hurricane Irma) [Re: Pete]
Dagny Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 11/25/08
Posts: 1916
Loc: Washington, DC
Originally Posted By: Pete
Dagny - thanks for posting.
I'm sure your list will help folks in FLA - esp. first-timers. They have all had a one-time go-around with Irma. Sorry about the damage to your brother's house.

Yes ... more hurricanes on the way. We don't know where they will hit, but probably damage will be a bit more localized. Irma was huge.

Your brother's family was super-fortunate about the storm surge and the flooding from the canal. Six inches is very close. But I'm glad it all worked out for them.


Thanks, Pete.

Interesting AP article about how the Irma experience may shape some peoples decisions in the next storm.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/U...-09-17-11-54-26

...Some of the tens of thousands who heeded the warnings got stuck in massive traffic jams, waited in hourslong lines at a dwindling number of gas stations still equipped with fuel, and were forced to bounce from city to city as the storm kept changing its path.


.

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#286296 - 09/18/17 12:32 AM Re: A View from Naples (Hurricane Irma) [Re: Dagny]
hikermor Online   content
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7198
Loc: southern Cal
Question about accidents and fatalities suffered during the evacuation. I haven't seen any figures and my impression is that things went better than the infamous Houston evac. This is certainly good news, if true...Did we learn any lessons about conducting major evacuations?


Edited by hikermor (09/18/17 12:34 AM)
_________________________
Geezer in Chief

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#286297 - 09/18/17 01:45 AM Re: A View from Naples (Hurricane Irma) [Re: Dagny]
Phaedrus Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2541
Loc: Big Sky Country
Wow! Sounds scary but I'm glad they came through it alright.
_________________________
“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz

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