A Hurricane I Won’t Forget

Senior Justin Pradere Gives First-Hand Account of Irma


Justin Pradere

Hurricane Irma causes uprooted tree to block local street on Sept. 11.

Justin Pradere, Editor in Chief

The howling winds and pouring rain outside woke me as Hurricane Irma passed over. I listened to the storm’s unfamiliar sounds outside my window; I wondered if we had prepared enough. South Florida, despite being hit by Hurricane Andrew in 1992, was largely unsure of what to prepare for; Irma seemed larger, more unpredictable. I was fearful of what was going to happen to Miami after witnessing the devastation it caused in the Caribbean.

I lost power around 8:00 a.m. Peering through the exposed window on top of my door, I watched my neighborhood deteriorate. The large oak tree in front of my driveway was splitting. Street lights were swaying with powerful winds.

All of a sudden, there was a loud bang in the backyard. My mother called to my sister and I. The wooden terrace my mom built had detached from our deck. About 45 minutes later, it began lifting in the wind until it flew off. As I was standing in the kitchen, there was a loud crash above me. I felt pieces of ceiling fall on my head. I froze.

There was now water pouring in and pooling at my feet. I looked up and saw a large hole in the ceiling exposing the wooden beams. The family room began to flood. The water was up to my ankles as I moved everything to the dry side of the house. It came to a point where we could not stay at my house anymore, which meant an immediate frenzy of packing five dogs, a parakeet, and four people into the car and braving the roads during the storm.

The drive to my grandmother’s house was surreal. I saw my childhood park where so many happy memories were made with my parents demolished, an unrecognizable heap of smashed plastic. Trees were uprooted and concrete walls were torn down. It was terrible to look at what was once a clean neighborhood become a disaster zone.

After the storm was over, we drove back to our house to start the grueling cleaning process. The roof was an absolute mess– there were pieces of wood scattered around, and a gaping hole in my kitchen. I asked my mother when we would be able to go back. She said with melancholic eyes, “It takes about three months.” My heart sank; I was going to be without a house for three months. The coming months will definitely be a challenge not only for my family, but for the whole community, as we work to repair Irma’s damage. Fallen trees will be cleaned up, cracked sidewalks re-paved, and life will continue as if nothing happened, but Irma’s impression on me is indelible; I gained a greater appreciation for the things I have and realized just how easy it is to take things for granted, like a standing house and safety of loved ones.