Bermudian braces for Irma onslaught
A Bermudian resident described being battoned down in Florida ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Irma last night.
Peter Madeiros, of Punta Gorda, a small town along the Gulf Coast, spoke with The Royal Gazette just before the anticipated arrival of the height of the storm.
On Friday, Mr Madeiros said he had prepared his place ahead of the massive storm — complete with Bermuda shutters. Yesterday, he said that he had taken to higher ground at a friend’s elevated home a short distance away along with seven other people.
From the window of the home, Mr Madeiros described the storm as leaving a nearby waterway empty. “All the boats are sitting on the bottom,” he said.
He said the rain was falling horizontally and estimated winds were already blowing at roughly 90 miles per hour.
Mr Madeiros said he was bunkered down in what he described as like a “vault” within the home.
“If the power goes out then a generator kicks in,” he said.
“So we’re living pretty good.”
He said those inside were watching live television coverage from nearby Naples, roughly an hour’s drive south.
“There’s a reporter there and water is up to his knees,” Mr Madeiros said.
The latest forecast, he said, had the storm hitting Punta Gorda as a Category 2 hurricane.
“That’s what we’re hoping for,” Mr Madeiros said.
As of Sunday afternoon, the National Hurricane Centre warned that the “life-threatening wind and storm surge” from Hurricane Irma would continue in the Florida Keys and southwestern Florida and spread into central and northwestern Florida Sunday night and into Monday.
“The threat of catastrophic storm surge flooding is highest along the southwest coast of Florida, where ten to 15 feet of inundation above ground level is expected,” the agency warned.
As of last night, Hurricane Jose was projected to make a looping path in the western Atlantic Ocean.
The storm remains a potential threat to Bermuda as it lurks less than 600 nautical miles south of the island.
Last night Jose stood at Category 3 strength, but by Tuesday afternoon it is forecast to have weakened to Category 1. Weather Service predictions had the system looping back southeast again.
Out in Florida, Mr Madeiros said the home was experiencing leaks from the windows and roof.
“If that’s all we get, I’m calling myself a lucky man,” he said.