BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Some of the people living in Brevard County say Hurricane Irma was one of the scariest storms they’ve experienced. One community heavily impacted has some neighbors stressing the importance of a safety plan.
“The devastation was unreal. That was a big one. I think that’s the one Florida feared the most,” Barbara Fisher said.
Fisher has lived in Island Lakes since 2010, and recalls the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in 2017. The Category 4 hurricane formed tornadoes that ripped off roofs and flattened homes in the Merritt Island neighborhood just missing Fisher’s home.
“It looked like a war zone. I’ve never seen that kind of damage in my entire life,” Fisher said.
Living on a barrier island, Fisher said she and her husband evacuated before the storm hit, a decision Brevard County officials said is important for those living in coastal areas.
“When the winds reach 45 miles per hour, it’s unsafe for ambulances or fire trucks to cross the causeways so we may not be able to get to you if there’s an emergency during a storm,” Brevard County Communications Director Don Walker said.
Walker said the county can’t force residents to evacuate, but emergency management officials will give recommendations based on a hurricane’s strength and path. It’s also important to know if you’re in a flood zone. You can find out on Brevard’s government website.
Brevard County Marketing Specialist, Jesi Ray said if you have to evacuate, you need to be ready.
“Make sure your windows are boarded up, have a bag ready to go, have any extra medications you may need. If you have pets, know what you’re doing with them,” Ray said.
Parts of the Island Lakes community has been rebuilt after the devastation left by Irma. Neighbors said it’s important to have a plan before a hurricane approaches and residents have some advice for those who are thinking of staying behind during a dangerous storm.
“Don’t try to ride it out, evacuate, definitely,” said Fisher.