By Larry Blustein
No matter where you were in the state of Florida, this past week has been truly been a “living hell”.
As all of the southeastern United States watched Hurricane Irma churn in the open waters of the Atlantic, eye-popping numbers such as 180 mile an hour sustained winds and 210 mile per hour gusts were enough for many to make plans way in advance.
Flying to the north, driving anywhere this giant of a storm wasn’t projected to come ashore. It was the most powerful storm the Atlantic Basin had ever seen.
As the days drew closer and the projections were more clearer, south Florida would not be spared. High winds and flooding would indeed be present - and while there was not a direct hit, every community from Surfside through Sunny Isles Beach, North Miami Beach, Aventura, Hallandale Beach, Hollywood and Dania Beach would lose power and have their share of damage.
Hollywood resident Penny Morris and her family rode out the storm in their home. While the only thing they lost was a few trees and of course, power, it was a chance that she took by keeping her family home.
“When we saw the direction it was headed there was no way that we were going to leave,” she said. “No matter where you went, the storm would have eventually followed and kept us from getting back. I am glad we stayed, but next time, we would have to evaluate like we did this time and see what was best for us.”
While it was certainly no Category 3, 4 or 5, what Irma did to many of the communities was seriously disable the infrastructure. Flooding and damage from the dreaded “dirty side of the storm” kept this entire region on edge. There were a number of tornadoes that added to the damage that the gusts of wind brought.
Several homes and businesses everywhere in southern Florida suffered some kind of damage do to the winds and flooding. Power stayed on in several areas, but for the majority - some 70 percent - were, and still are, without power.
While it is no time to start finger pointing and many are frustrated from being hot and tired - we did escape the fury of the storm. Yes, we got hit, and no matter who you talk to - it was strong tropical storm to a low, low end hurricane - but the question many are asking is why was there were so many power outages, when winds were not nearly as strong as expected.
“It just seems that many of these outages could have been prevented,” Alison Parker-Sosa of Hallandale Beach explained. “I have often wondered why cities do not issue fines for trees near power lines. I have been through enough storms to know how power is knocked out.”
When a storm arrives like this one, and the power goes out, the conversation about underground power lines begins. While it seems like a solution, there is much more to it - and the cost of doing it is an expense that many are not ready for.
To all those Sun Times customers we wish you all the best - while coming back from the storm. We will be there helping to promote you along the way in the paper and online - as well as our social media.