Big & Bad Hurricane Irma
I’m sure you have all heard of Irma by now, a hurricane the size of France powering her way through the Caribbean towards Florida destroying islands every few hours .
Initially the reports were sort of vague , I knew it was in the Caribbean and was heading towards the islands but it wasn’t really going to hit Florida ,even less so Miami . So the weekend for every one carried on as normal, clubs bars and plenty of sunshine and sunbathing on the beach .
However after the weekend the Governor of Florida and the Mayor of Miami started to issue warnings to everyone with regards to Irma . They didn’t know if Miami was going to be hit by Irma but they were warning people to start preparing just in case .
But at this point no one seemed to be really taking any real notice of the warnings .The bars and restaurants of Ocean Drive were still packed out Beach and SouthBeach and Lincoln Rd were still really busy with locals and tourist . I went on two trips and everything was pretty much normal in Miami
Tuesday morning though my hotel told all guest that they may need to leave on earlier than planned and they would keep us updated and we should listen out for any warnings .
At this point I wasn’t that bothered and many other people were the same but I rang my airline and enquired about getting a earlier flight out .
But because nothing was definite the earliest they could give me with no penalties was Sunday so I took this earlier flight just to be safe . However it was still lovely and sunny & warm and a hurricane was just about the furthest thing I was really thinking about .
However the next day they started to give out warnings about possible mandatory evacuations in zone A&B But again nothing was actually official . But I and many others was beginning to get worried . Hurricane Irma was causing a lot of damage in the Caribbean Islands .
The tiny island of Barbuda was practically ripped apart ,one news report stated that once there was an island called Barbuda but it’s gone now .The tiny island had almost vanished when Irma passed over it .
Antigua and the US & British Virgin Islands didn’t fare much better with wide spread devastating damage and several people had been killed .
So I rang my airline again and asked to get on a earlier flight and they managed to get me on a Friday flight But even at this point the airlines were still flying into Miami so I wasn’t overly bothered .
But people were turning up at my hotel and being told that they could stay for 1 night possibly 2 but they couldn’t guarantee any more nights than that .
At my hotel and all the other beach front hotels they were beginning initial preparations for the possibility of being hit by Irma. All the sun beds and beach huts were removed from the beach and the pool area
Doors were being shored up by sandbags and plywood was being placed over the doors
In my room the cleaners brought in the patio chairs and tables into the bedroom for safe keeping . It was like being in a very upmarket & posh war zone in the sunshine .
I went out on Wednesday night to Lincoln Rd to do some last minute shopping and that’s when I realised that even without an official evacuation order thousands & thousands of people had left Miami already .
Lincoln Rd Ocean Drive & Washington Ave were like a graveyard, only 2 days before I was getting annoyed at the amount of people you had to push pass to get anywhere .
Now it was like a something out of Walking Dead . Shops were getting boarded up table and chairs were being removed from the sidewalks anything that could be blown away was being taken indoors .
Clubs and bars that only a day or two before were packed with people having a good time were empty .
Thursday morning I woke up to another glorious sunshine day in Miami ,perfect sunbathing weather and not a cloud in the sky .
But I also woke up to a letter that had been slid under my door informing me that zone A&B were being evacuated and I needed to be out of my room by twelve midday today as the hotel was closing today
They also mentioned that Miami airport would most likely close on Friday which was when I was due to fly home .
Florida was now an official state of emergency . A mandatory evacuation were now in place for zones A&B
Everyone in these area mainly beach front hotels full of tourists were told they had to leave as soon as possible .
In a total panic I rang my airline . I was in tears on the phone , the man I was speaking to was adamant there was absolutely no way I was going to get a flight out today from Miami . I said I was willing to fly anywhere but my hotel was kicking me out and I had no where to go all the airport hotels were full up .
Now I don’t know how he did it, but after a nail biting 45 mins on the phone he managed to get me a seat on the Thursday evening flight out of Miami .
At this point in complete tears I told him that I loved him 100 percent and that he was the best guy I’d ever met in my life . At this point I would have done & said just about anything to get on that flight home .
I was pretty lucky to get out of Miami quickly as the airport closed on Friday and is possibly not re- opening till Tuesday .Miami airport was packed solid everyone was trying to get a flight out . The plane was totally full, not a single spare seat anywhere .
Since I arrived back on Friday in between sleeping and getting rid of jet lag I have been closely watching and reading everything about Hurricane Irma and it’s pretty terrifying .
The streets of Brickell where I did part of my big bus tour only two days earlier was flooded and cranes had toppled and snapped into buildings . Roofs had been ripped off buildings . Brickell Ave became a three foot river almost instantly
Indian Creek which was opposite my hotel overflowed onto Collins Ave . I took photos of it on the morning that I left and the water levels were pretty high even then.
Cuba in particular Havana has been very badly hit. In Havana I can remember that the buildings were very old and many were falling down a few years ago when I visited .So god only knows what Hurricane Irma managed to do to these buildings .
Miami airport Is still shut as I write this and Hurricane Irma is still causing death and destruction all over Florida & the Caribbean with Tornados, huge waves & floods causing power cuts everywhere and even though she’s been downgraded several notches she’s still a big threat to Florida & the Caribbean at present .
I’m gutted that my two week holiday was ruined but I’m glad to be home safe and sound and I feel for all those people who have lost friends family’s and their homes in the last week .
Next time I will avoid the bloody hurricane season or fuck it I might just go to Weston Super Mare, at least there the worse thing that can happen is that I’ll get chased by a crazy beach donkey .