Dad tells of terror sitting out storm
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