Getting Lost (Travel), North America

Hurricane Irma: My First Hurricane In Florida

Over the past weekend, everyone in the United States, and many parts of the world, had their eyes on Florida. As Hurricane Irma had already ripped through the Caribbean, leaving destruction and even death, many were scared of the impact a Category 5 storm would have on the Sunshine State (categories are 1-5 and depict a hurricane’s sustained wind speed and potential for damage). Thousands evacuated, but my family and I stayed near Fort Lauderdale. Here’s what it was like during a hurricane…

I’ve lived in South Florida for about nine years now. The state hasn’t had many major hurricanes in that time. Southeast Florida specifically has had hurricane warnings but they fizzled out shortly before they were going to hit us. Or we’ve had intense tropical storms, but those were nothing compared to Irma.


The pre-hurricane hype was massive, but rightfully so. The Caribbean Islands were battered, and the island of Barbuda was decimated.

“For the first time in 300 years, there’s not a single living person on the island of Barbuda — a civilization that has existed on that island for over 300 years has now been extinguished,” Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to the U.S., told USA Today.

Lines began forming at grocery stores days before the storm was projected to hit. Shelves emptied early in the week. Gas stations ran out of gas. Bottled water ran out of stores. At one store, we had to form a line around the perimeter of the store just to get two cases of bottled water – that’s how in demand it was!



Thankfully Southeast Florida was spared much of Irma’s wrath. Actually, we didn’t have nearly as much damage as the reports said we would. Which is great. However, the hurricane experience itself wasn’t as pleasant. I thought I would just be sitting at home, catching up on TV shows, or doing homework/reading if the lights went out.

But in actuality, we had about four tornado warnings (one even at 4 a.m.), so I was constantly running to the bathroom to hide in the bathtub. I even slept on the bathroom floor so that I’d have closer access to the shelter of the bathtub haha.

The house was so dark with all the shutters up, so we were constantly confused on what time it was, and just resorted to sleeping (or eating our hurricane snacks) for most of the day. The few times I tried to crack open my marketing textbooks, I was soon distracted by the tornado warning blaring from my phone (must have been a sign to forgo homework for the weekend).

The Aftermath

While places like The Keys, (which was hit as a Category 4 hurricane), were destroyed in some areas, Fort Lauderdale, besides some flooding, loss of power, and plenty of downed trees, escaped far worse.The hurricane had decreased in strength and didn’t make direct landfall in Fort Lauderdale (we were hit by the “feeder bands” or strong storm winds up to 70 mph). Many people are still without power at the moment, but the path to recovery is underway.

On Monday, we opened up our shutters to blue skies and sunshine…and a bunch of fallen trees. It’s crazy how a storm could rip these gigantic trees right out of the ground.

So thankful for little damage to Southeast Florida, yet saddened by all the destruction in other areas. If you’re interested in helping those affected by Hurricane Irma in Florida and the Caribbean, you can find more information on charities and donations here and here (this one is mostly for the Caribbean). There are plenty of other organizations you can find on Google as well. Just do some research into each one to make sure they are legitimate.

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