LOCK­DOWN

Hol­i­day­mak­ers’ hur­ri­cane hell in Florida

Lennox Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Lor­raine Weir and Carla Tal­bot

Wor­ried lo­cal hol­i­day­mak­ers were put on lock­down in Florida as dev­as­tat­ing Hur­ri­cane Irma bat­tered the state.

Deadly Irma — one of the worst storms ever recorded — has killed 38 and forced more than six mil­lion peo­ple to flee for their lives.

The cat­e­gory four hur­ri­cane hit the sun­shine state on Sun­day, tear­ing through towns and cities with winds of 120mph and fe­ro­cious storm surges.

Bal­loch sis­ters Abby, 20, and Lau­ren Crich­ton, 23, were forced to hide out in their Dis­ney World Or­lando re­sort for 24 hours as the hor­ror storm hit.

Parks closed and hol­i­day­mak­ers were told it wasn’t safe to go out­side.

The Kane fam­ily from Alexan­dria were also caught up in the drama and given “hur­ri­cane packs” and told to wait out the bat­ter­ing wind and rain from their Or­lando ho­tel room.

Dev­as­tat­ing Hur­ri­cane Irma smashed its way through the main tourist ar­eas of Florida caus­ing chaos for hol­i­day­mak­ers from Dum­bar­ton, the Vale and He­lens­burgh.

The most fe­ro­cious hur­ri­cane in his­tory to hit the south-east­ern state claimed the lives of six peo­ple – and three in Ge­or­gia and one in South Carolina – as it left a trail of de­struc­tion in its wake.

The cat­e­gory four storm made its way to the United States of Amer­ica af­ter wreak­ing havoc on a host of pic­turesque Caribbean is­lands pop­u­lar with hol­i­day­mak­ers leav­ing 38 peo­ple dead in­clud­ing 10 fa­tal­i­ties in Cuba.

At its most fierce, the storm brought winds of 120mph.

Abby Crich­ton, 20, and her 23-year-old sis­ter Lau­ren were en­joy­ing a two-week hol­i­day in Dis­ney World when the pow­er­ful hur­ri­cane struck on Mon­day.

The Bal­loch sis­ters were forced to hide in their ho­tel room and stock up on food from the ho­tel gift shop dur­ing the worst of the dev­as­tat­ing storm.

They are due to fly back to Glas­gow to­mor­row (Thurs­day), and de­scribed their re­sort as a “ghost town” fol­low­ing in­tense high winds and rain.

Speak­ing to the Len­nox Her­ald from their ho­tel room in the Dis­ney All Star Mu­sic re­sort on Mon­day, Abby said: “The news hasn’t been off our TV.

“There has been a cur­few in the county and no-one has been al­lowed out of their ho­tel. The news chan­nel told us that the hur­ri­cane had changed di­rec­tion and the eye of it was pretty much go­ing to hit us and the wind and rain started get­ting re­ally strong.

“We never re­ally got much sleep, the noise of the wind was so loud. Out­side we

could see that the ground was com­pletely cov­ered in wa­ter.

“Be­ing two young girls away from home with­out par­ents we were pretty scared about be­ing in the ho­tel room alone whilst the storm was go­ing on.

“Our par­ents were con­stantly on the phone, not sleep­ing be­cause they were so wor­ried.”

Abby told how the ho­tel was “crazy” just be­fore the worst of the weather struck as ev­ery­one was told to stock up on food and wa­ter.

She con­tin­ued: “Ev­ery­one was clearly in panic mode and run­ning about crazy try­ing to pre­pare.

“We had to stay away from win­dows in case trees fell on them.

“Af­ter the cur­few was set the ho­tel was like a ghost town as ev­ery­one was stuck in their rooms.

“Now that the storm has passed, ev­ery­one is wan­der­ing about to see what dam­age has been done.

“The storm left such a mess out­side, there were trees on the ground and pretty much all of the ground was cov­ered in branches and muck.”

Lor­raine Ma­son from He­lens­burgh was stay­ing in the Cler­mont area of Or­lando in a villa with par­ents Jim and Ann Ma­son who were cel­e­brat­ing their Golden Wed­ding an­niver­sary.

Speak­ing on Mon­day af­ter the worst of the weather, she said: “There are just a few trees down and a bit of net­ting round the pool has came off. It’s just re­ally windy now but the sun is out.”

The main parks at Dis­ney World re­opened yes­ter­day (Tues­day) how­ever the wa­ter parks re­main closed un­til later this week.

Some 6.3mil­lion peo­ple, which ac­counts for more than a quar­ter of the pop­u­la­tion of Florida, were or­dered to evac­u­ate late last week and are now fac­ing the har­row­ing task of re­turn­ing home to find the ex­tent of the dam­age to their prop­er­ties.

Of­fi­cials in the state have been left count­ing the cost of the dam­age which is ex­pected to be up to $50 bil­lion.

The Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter con­firmed on Mon­day the storm was down­graded as it moved north to­wards At­lanta, Ge­or­gia.

Our par­ents were con­stantly on the phone, not sleep­ing be­cause they were so wor­ried Abby Crich­ton

Dis­ney trip Abby and Lau­ren Power of na­ture Hur­ri­cane Irma bat­ters the coast­line as winds of up to 120mph cause car­nage across Florida (be­low)

May­hem in the Magic King­dom Lau­ren, 23, and Abby Crich­ton, 20, from Bal­loch, in Florida dur­ing Hur­ri­cane Irma. Be­low are pic­tures of their re­sort in Dis­ney af­ter the storm hit on Mon­day

Irma Jim and Ann Ma­son from He­lens­burgh with daugh­ter Lor­raine Ma­son cel­e­brat­ing their 50th an­niver­sary in Florida

Apoc­a­lypse now Scenes of dev­as­ta­tion caused by Hur­ri­cane Irma

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