After retiring from Eli Lilly, my aunt sold her home in Indianapolis, Indiana and moved to Tampa, Florida last February. Unfortunately, her retirement experienced a minor setback with the arrival of Hurricane Irma.
The fierce hurricane ripped through parts of Florida and left some major destruction. My aunt’s home appeared to be in danger of getting hit with high winds and possible flooding.
Once I learned of the deadly weather I contacted her immediately. I let her know I was concerned for her safety and invited her to stay with me.
Fortunately, she had already made plans to stay in Indianapolis with my father. A close friend helped her pack up her pets and share the drive from Tampa to Indianapolis.
My aunt and her fur babies managed to get to Indianapolis safely. After a week with my parents, she decided it was safe to go home. She learned that Irma had changed directions and had missed her house.
So after she decided to return home, my father asked me if I wouldn’t mind helping my aunt drive back to Tampa. I left immediately and met with my aunt and father in Indianapolis.
So I was ready for a long road trip. It would be my father, my aunt, her two dogs, and two cats. And was it ever a long road trip. By the time it was over we had driven 17 hours without staying overnight anywhere. My aunt was tired after we passed through Atlanta but I wanted to keep on going. By the time we got to her house, it was around 2 a.m.
We were all ready to drop over from exhaustion by the time we arrived.
After sleeping for a few hours, we surveyed my aunt’s house for damage. Thankfully, Irma took pity on her neighborhood and left everything standing. The worst damage was to the trees. Most of the neighbors experienced strong winds and had only lost tree limbs. The neighborhood also maintained its power.
We then drove around different areas to get an idea of the damage from the winds. We travelled to Clear Water Beach to survey any possible damage. We did see a house with a tree lying on top of it. But the roof was intact. The most damage we ended up seeing was large trees that had been torn out of the ground by the roots. I could tell many of the trees were old. We watched workers cutting up the remains.
Once we got to the beach, we saw piles of seaweed and debris along the sand. A gentleman in one of the local shops told us how fortunate they were to have only experienced minimal damage. He had stayed to ride out the storm and saw at least five dump trucks carry away debris from the beach.
I am thankful that my aunt and her neighbors didn’t experience any major damage from the storm. Media reports stated that they were fortunate that Hurricane Irma turned when it did. Otherwise, residents could have faced death and extensive property damage. It was my aunt’s first experience with a hurricane in her new home. A friend of my aunt’s has spent most of her life in the Tampa area. She is accustomed to the weather and has survived some of Mother Nature’s worst weather. She accepted the weather as part of life in Florida. After awhile I expect my aunt to share her friend’s opinion about Florida.
My father and I eventually caught a flight home since neither of us had it in us for another long drive. As much as I complain about dealing with the allergies that come from living in Clermont County, I am always glad to be living here when I hear about hurricanes and other natural disasters.
Marc is a grandparent and longtime resident of Clermont County. Visit his author page Life with Grandpa and he also just wrote Just Bite Me: A Guide to Zombies, Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Walking Nightmares, which is available on Amazon.com.