We lived on Long Beach Island in New Jersey for over 18 years, enduring many Nor'easter and several hurricanes. That said, leaving Siesta Key did not cross our minds, however Irma’s status as a Cat 4 headed straight for our home was a bit of a game changer.
Luckily for us, Cat Depot sent out emails with info on "Pet Friendly" Shelters, so our family headed to Brookside Middle School for shelter from the storm.
It is amazing how many institutions come together to help those in need. The Red Cross signed us in and checked groups for special needs. The County and City, along school district workers, were there to give a place to sleep and in our case food as well from the school cafeteria while we had power.
Our two cats, Vinnie and Kiara, were signed in and kept in a separate area with upwards of sixty other cats. Our daughter Kris, a senior at New College, volunteered to help with the cat section, spending the entire time ensuring were hydrated and calm, and that they could be moved quickly in event of a greater emergency.
Our adventure became more real as we experienced lockdowns at night, with all doors leading outside locked for safety and the area patrolled during the night by the police or sheriff’s department. As Irma neared Sarasota, the National Guard arrived. Since our classroom did not have a TV and we lost power Sunday night, we relied on our phones for information on Irma’s path.
We were all quite terrified at what was on the way and the damage it could have done, but Irma deviated from the predicted path and Sarasota was only hit with heavy winds and rain. We are all extremely grateful at how lucky we are to have little damage to our city, home, and family.
(Our daughter, Lisa, keeping track of us from Burbank CA, sent us the info and link for the manatees rescued in Manatee County)