A worker is silhouetted against the setting sun as he works on a power line in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Marco Island, Florida., on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017.
Hurricane Irma has come and gone, but the wreckage it left behind will resonate for a long time, and former and current Mainers living in Florida are feeling its impact.
The Category 4 storm dropped on the southeast coast Sept. 10 with 130 mph winds.
Bonnie Rousseau was born and raised in Lewiston and moved to Marco Island, Florida, in 2014.
“The traffic was crazy gridlocked, and I was worried that I would run out of gas and be stranded,” Rousseau wrote. “I tried to get to a shelter but they were either full, or wouldn’t take dogs.”
She said she wasn’t going anywhere without her dog.
Rousseau was able to get to her friend’s house in Naples but was still in the eye of the storm.
“When it finally calmed down and we were in the wall of the eye we went outside to see how bad the street was. The trees were down in the middle of the road and on top of people’s roofs,” she wrote. “It was like waking up in a nightmare.”
She said they spent the next two days cleaning the yard, and there were still no businesses open.
“The banks were all torn up, the gas stations toppled over and homes all boarded up,” Rousseau said. “(There were) no streetlights working, no cellphone service to call your loved ones to let them know you were OK. A lot of places were still flooded where the water hadn’t receded yet.”
She flew out once the airports had power again and just got back to Florida on Monday. “There is power now, and water, but with a boil (water) notice and rations on how much you use.”
“I know it will be a long time before this city and even the whole state can function again as a community,” she said. “Hurricane Irma is a memory that will always be imprinted in my head.”
She said children won’t go back to school until Monday.
Rebecca Brackett Bradstreet of Rangeley lives in Sebring. She said the hurricane went right through the area and they just got power back Tuesday. “We did all right but some of my neighbors didn’t do too well,” she said.
“My stepson, Richard Bradstreet from Wales, with his two sons and my stepdaughter Pauline Murphy, drove 22 hours to help us and a lot of my neighbors with cutting trees, cleaning up carports, and so on,” Bradstreet said. She said he also brought water, food, fuel and other supplies.
She said it costs about $86 per day for some people to run their generators, which is really hard on some of them.
Bradstreet said the National Guard passed out two cases of water, two bags of ice, 12 meals and tarps every day.
“I am a Rangeley, Maine girl and pretty strong but I don’t think I want to go through another hurricane like this one,” she said. “The sound was so awful but the good Lord was watching over me and my family.”