Written by Amber Wibbenmeyer. Media by Kelsey Middleton.
Hurricane Irma was the largest hurricane to form in the Atlantic in 2017 so far (although Hurricane Maria is threatening to take that title). Irma was a Category 5 hurricane, registering wind rates of 185 mph at its peak.
Gray Levi, one of the many people affected by the hurricane, lives in Palm Bay, Florida— about 15 miles away from the coast. Levi, a sixteen-year-old who is currently dual-enrolled in high school and college, is attempting to get a head start on his college career. The downside to being enrolled in both college and high school is that he had to wait for classes to be canceled before his mother would agree to evacuate. Concerned for his safety and his family’s, he anxiously awaited the words from his campus. Late Wednesday evening, September 6, he received a message saying his classes were canceled until the hurricane passed.
With this news, Levi’s mother agreed to evacuate. They packed up the following day, Thursday the 7, and headed north. They made arrangements to stay with a family member located in central Georgia, and they began the familiar drive. The drive typically takes around eight hours, depending on traffic in Atlanta. However, the family spent 10 hours in the car on Thursday and only made it as far as Gainesville, Florida. This part of the drive normally only takes three hours, but after the extreme amount of time in the car, and a lot of pain for Levi’s mother, they were forced to stop for the night.
The following day they started out again, hoping to make it the rest of the way, and spent another 14 hours in the car. When they finally made it to their family’s house, they had spent a total of 24 hours in the car. The only thing they had left to do was wait.
[divide]The storm hit Palm Bay on Sunday, September 10, and moved its way through the southern states. Levi was able to see some of the damage to his house while he was safely in Georgia. He watched as the siding near his room was ripped off the house. As this was happening, he was fully aware that some of his friends, family, and his dog were still in Florida.
He spent five days away from home, bored out of his mind, waiting for the chance to go back home again. He eventually made it home after being away for nine days. He was very glad to be home, in his own bed again, and his loved ones in other states were glad he and his family were safe. When asked for a quote about his overall experience with the event, he stated, “It was awful. Traffic was dead stopped from where I live all the way through Georgia.”
He is home now, reunited with his family and friends, and he is safe. There was some damage done to his town and the surrounding towns, but he and his family are all okay, and that’s what matters.