Earlier tonight, I finally got a chance to go outside and see the damage Hurricane Irma caused in the area close to my home. When I think back to what the experience of the storm itself was like, seeing the damage it caused is pretty surreal. The #1 thought running through my head right now is, I am lucky. Things VERY easily could have been pretty terrible here… but they weren’t. During the storm, I knew there would be damage, but I never imagined it would be this bad around here.
The parking lot in front of my building is covered with scattered broken branches right now. About 75 yards way, a tree was completely uprooted. There is a giant hole in the ground with the tree lying next to it. Metal signs are twisted and facing the wrong direction. Other signs are bent over, or are just gone. There is damage to the buildings around here, but nothing significant that I could see. There is other random debris on the ground that I am guessing came from a building somewhere, but I couldn’t begin to guess where it’s from.
When I was finally able to leave home tonight, I decided I needed a few hours to go have some fun. I decided to head to the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival at Disney World. Along the way, I finally realized just how lucky I am to not have had anything bad happen to me.
The back road I take to get to Disney World is flooded right now. Hundreds of trees are gone in an area that just days ago was basically a forest. Power poles are leaning. Trees that didn’t break or blow over are leaning. On the back side of Magic Kingdom, the side tourists never see, more trees are either gone or were snapped in half. Disney’s Grand Floridian resort didn’t appear to have any damage, but there were more trees down outside of the resort. Driving by Disney’s Magnolia and Palm golf courses, you guessed it… more giant trees are down. Many of the trees appear to have basically been snapped like twigs. Some of the fairways are flooded. There is a lot of work that will need to be done to get those courses ready for play again.
As I headed toward Epcot, I passed by a broken pipe that was spraying water 20′ into the air. All of Disney’s signs have either already been repaired/replaced, or somehow managed to not be damaged.
Epcot was probably the busiest I’ve ever seen it tonight, which is not surprising after people were stuck inside for days. I think it was just a big relief for all of us to have a place to go for a few hours to just forget about the past few days.
This is probably something that was far from most people’s minds as they enjoyed their time in the park, but I made sure to thank every cast member I spoke with tonight. They all obviously experienced the same storm as the rest of us. They likely had damage to deal with at their homes. They all have family and friends they have been worried about. Yet, tonight they were at work (probably not by choice) doing their best to make the experience feel like a normal day/night for all of the park guests. I really hope more people thanked them for their hard work and for keeping the Disney magic alive for all of us who just wanted a little break from reality. I figured the least I could do was let them know that I appreciate the things they do for the park guests… not just now, but all of the time. Cast members put up with a lot of crap from people, and shouldn’t have to deal with that.
I’m sure I will see a lot more jaw-dropping things in the days and weeks to come, but this is just a quick little update on the things I saw in the short time I went out tonight. I don’t have any pictures of any of the damage around here, and I’m not sure if the descriptions I gave do justice to the severity of some of the damage. I think it’s maybe one of those things that you have to see for yourself and had to know what things looked like around here before for you to truly understand it.
I keep saying this, but I can’t stress enough how lucky myself and the people around me were during Hurricane Irma. The damage here is really bad in areas, but it’s nothing compared to what some people are dealing with. Those are the people we should all be thinking of at this time. They need help. It takes people working together to get things back to as close to normal as possible. It will be a long process for many people, but life will get back to normal eventually. Hopefully that “normal” life will return sooner rather than later.