A CHESTER man living in Florida has described the aftermath of Hurricane Irma which swept through the state on Monday.
Luckily the 180mph winds had weakened to about 70mph when they hit the home Robert Washington-Nance shares with his husband Brad in the waterfront city of Pensacola.
But he said friends living in other cities including Orlando and Miami had not fared so well, with homes destroyed and serious damage to property.
Robert, 45, who moved to the USA from Chester three years ago, told the Leader: “The winds from the hurricane have died down a lot and we have winds of about 70mph.
“Our friends down in Miami have not been that lucky and some have lost their homes.
“Our friends in Cocoa Beach were reporting water coming through the walls – but have survived to tell the tale.
“The problem they face is power as temperatures are in the nineties and, with no air conditioning, it’s getting very hot for many as the humidity is now up to about 80 per cent after a hurricane.”
He added: “Our friends in Orlando are boarded up still and waiting also for power to be restored – but they say Disney will be open again in a few days time.
“Most airports and all of the schools and post offices are closed and the military base 100 feet from our home is also shut for a few days.
“All beaches have been closed to try and protect people – and yet some people want to put their lives at risk by going down to the beach for a better view of the hurricane.
“These people are not very bright because some rescue workers then have to go and put their own lives at risk to rescue these crazy people who still want to walk on the beach in a hurricane.”
More than 30 people are reported to have died after the hurricane – originally classed as the highest category five – devastated the Caribbean islands.
A huge clean-up operation is now under way as power is gradually restored to areas of the Caribbean and USA.
Robert said he and his husband stocked up on water, food, radio batteries and first aid supplies when they heard Irma was on its way. He had experienced hurricanes in the past, including those with powerful category four and five winds.
“If you can imagine the noise of six huge steam trains, then that is the sound. The volume is deafening,” said Robert.
“Doors shake violently. Cars and roofs if they get caught in the gusts fly through the streets like toys. More people die from flying debris than any anything else.”
He added: “Hurricane season starts June 1 and ends November 30 – so it’s a wide window and Florida generally gets up to 20 a year. Over the past few years the hurricanes have got stronger and lasted longer and caused more damage.”
See full story in the Chester Leader