Wednesday 22 November 2017

It's scary beyond belief, I hope my house doesn't collapse - Irish mum in Florida on Hurricane Irma

Flooding in the Brickell neighborhood as Hurricane Irma passes Miami, Florida
Flooding in the Brickell neighborhood as Hurricane Irma passes Miami, Florida

Kathy Armstrong

An Irish mother living in Florida has said she is terrified her house will collapse as Hurricane Irma batters the Sunshine State.

Mairead O'Higgins is living in Sarasota and said she desperately hopes her home survives the historic storm.

She told Independent.ie: "It's awful, absolutely awful, we're just waiting and not knowing what could happen, that's the worst part.

"We haven't got a storm shelter so we've taken the internal doors down and have put them up against the windows.

"We know the windows will blow out but I just hope that the complex doesn't collapse into itself."

Irma killed more than 20 people when it tore across the Caribbean over the last week.

More than 6.5 million people in Florida were ordered to evacuate by governor Rick Scott before it hit on Saturday.

Read More: Hurricane Irma makes landfall in Florida as public warned of life threatening conditions

Ms O'Higgins, who is originally from Rathgar in Dublin,  has been living in Florida for a year with her three children and said they were expected to get the tail end of  Irma but now they are in the eye of it.

She said: "It's very scary, a lot of people tried to evacuate but were unable to get out because the roads are so filled.

"There's also a shortage of gas and people are afraid of running out on the highway.

"We thought we were just going to get the residual of Irma but now we're in the eye, Sarasota has been divided into four zones and thankfully we're in Zone D, which will be the least affected."

Boats are seen at a marina in Coconut Grove as Hurricane Irma arrives at south Florida, in Miami, Florida, U.S., September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Boats are seen at a marina in Coconut Grove as Hurricane Irma arrives at south Florida, in Miami, Florida, U.S., September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Read More: Irma: Florida sheriff urges people not to shoot at hurricane, saying 'you won't turn it around'

She said that her family are in a particularly tricky situation as they aren't eligible for aid.

Ms O'Higgins said: "Nobody here has ever experienced anything of this magnitude, we're watching the weather and it's scary beyond belief.

"You have to be residents to get any aid so we don't qualify.

"We also were not able to take out insurance.

"It's scary as we've no other family here, it's just ourselves.

"The British and Canadian governments have said they will help any residents here who are affected by Irma so I'm hoping that the Irish government will say the same."

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