Apoc­a­lypse now

Dad tells of ter­ror sit­ting out storm

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser - - News - An­drew Bargh

The dad of a Coat­bridge fam­ily- of-five on hol­i­day in Florida has re­vealed Hur­ri­cane Irma felt like“the apoc­a­lypse.”

Craig and Ja­nine Wilkie are two weeks into a dream three-week trip to Largo, around 15 miles east of Tampa, with their sons Jay, 13, Cody, nine, and five-year-old Casey.

But the dream threat­ened to be­come a nightmare last week as the Shaw­head fam­ily were forced to bar­ri­cade them­selves in­doors and brace for Irma’s 100mph winds.

The eye of the hur­ri­cane was pre­dicted to ar­rive di­rectly over Tampa on Florida’s east coast, but the storm veered slightly off its path mean­ing the Wilkies were spared the full force of Mother Na­ture.

None­the­less, Craig ad­mits there was ut­ter panic as the weather con­di­tions de­te­ri­o­rated very quickly.

He told the Ad­ver­tiser: “We were a week into our hol­i­day when we heard the storm was due to hit us.

“I was pretty calm on hearing it but Ja­nine be­came a ner­vous wreck in the lead-up and my el­dest son Jay be­came very quiet.

“The storm started on Sun­day morn­ing with wind and very heavy rain and as the day went on it grad­u­ally got stronger and stronger.

“Winds were around 90mph and the sound of that was the worst part.

“The at­mos­phere was very eerie and it felt like the apoc­a­lypse was upon us.”

Craig con­tin­ued: “Every­one around was very wor­ried lead­ing up to it. There was lots of panic-buying of food and petrol.

“We made a camp in our bed­room with the kids and stayed there all day play­ing games and watch­ing TV. When we were in there and the storm was on a di­rect path to us, that’s when the fear re­ally set in.

“The wind was so noisy, so we played loud mu­sic to try and drown it out.

“The dam­age to our condo was min­i­mal but the af­ter­math is ter­ri­ble – trees, fences and signs have all been knocked down and most of the shops and restau­rants are closed.”

Hur­ri­cane Irma last week ram­paged through the Caribbean and flat­tened 95 per cent of build­ings on the small is­land of Bar­buda be­fore wreak­ing havoc in the Cuban cap­i­tal, Ha­vana.

It grad­u­ally de­creased from a cat­e­gory five storm to cat­e­gory two over the week­end but has still left twothirds of homes in Florida with­out power.

All in all, 41 peo­ple have been killed by Irma since last week.

Craig is might­ily re­lieved his fam­ily es­caped the brunt of the storm and com­pli­mented Florid­ian lo­cals, adding: “The com­mu­nity spirit around us was great.

“Neigh­bours put us at ease and told us how to pre­pare for the storm hit­ting.

“For four days now it’s put a damp­ener on our trip as the place has been in to­tal panic.

“Hope­fully ev­ery­thing will get

Wreck­age The Wilkie fam­ily’s photo shows an ex­am­ple of the havoc caused by Hur­ri­cane Irma in Florida

sheer panic Craig and Ja­nine Wilkie and sons Jay, Cody and Casey were forced to bar­ri­cade them­selves in­doors

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