A month after Hurricane Irma touched down on America’s best beach, life for visitors and locals alike is back to its sunny self. Siesta Key residents are feeling both relieved and thankful after 400-mile-wide Irma, one of three major hurricanes to hit the United States this season, weakened to a Category 2 storm, leaving Florida’s Pacific Coast in a much better state that originally expected.
The storm descended on the region mid-September, causing power outages, downed trees, and some minor infrastructure damage, including almost no damage to our Siesta Key resort hotel – a small price to pay in the scheme of the devastating tropical activity that has plagued the southern U.S. this year.
Although Sarasota news was full of information regarding Irma and preparation ahead of the storm, and Siesta Key residents were more than prepared, Sarasota lucked out once again and missed the brunt of the hurricane’s force.
“…Sarasota residents are feeling so fortunate and know that those communities south of us took quite a beating and have a lot of recovery ahead of them,” Florida native Stefany Holmes told the Sarasota Patch.
The storm hit Sarasota on Sunday September 10th, taking out trees, flooding streets, knocking down fences, and inflicting some damage on homes. In Siesta Key, wind damage caused fallen trees and flying debris blocked driveways and landed on top of homes.
By Wednesday, though, the county was back to normal. Sarasota County waited a week to give the official all-clear, the Your Observer reported. This was largely thanks to the tight-knit community that quickly lent a hand to help with cleanup.
Homeowners cleaned up yards and unboarded windows that were covered by those expecting a worse storm, and those who left town, following President Trump’s advice to “just get out of its way,” quickly returned.
Thousands without power had it restored within the week, and traffic lights in the county were working again by Friday. But the cleanup process is not an overnight–or even week-long–job. The vegetation cleanup effort in the Sarasota area has continued well into October, blaming the delay on contractors profiting from the storm, scrapping old contracts for higher-paying ones in the south. In the city of Sarasota, the first round of storm-related debris pick-up from the curb will occur on October 20, followed by a second round.
Where Did Irma Hit Hardest?
While there is still work to be done and mouths to feed – last month’s power outages caused thousands of families barely making ends meet to lose food – the impact on the Florida peninsula was minimal.
The Suncoast’s evasion of the worst of this storm may have been at the expense of neighboring Cuba, which was crippled by the storm. At least 10 people were killed as the storm lashed out on the island for 72 hours, using up much of its energy.
Irma, was the first Category 5 hurricane to hit Cuba in decades. Winds dropped from 185 mph to 130 mph by the time it hit Florida, weakening to a Category 4 on the southern shores of the United States. By the time it hit the Sarasota area, it had dropped to a Category 2.
Other areas of the state, however, weren’t so lucky. According to the national Hurricane Center, the water levels in Miami rose more than two meters in an hour-and-a-half in Naples, about 100 miles south of Sarasota. On the other side of the island, Miami was flooded. Across the state, more than 3.3 million homes and businesses lost power.
Siesta Key Is Back To Normal
In Siesta Key, businesses are working on reassuring hesitant visitors that, like any other, 2017 is a great year to head south. Geography, too, is important. “One of the biggest issues is people understanding geography and that the entire state is not wiped out,” Visit Sarasota president Virginia Haley told 10 News.
Beach cities further up the coast, such as Sarasota and Tampa, are in a much better state than some of the southern vacation hotspots like Naples. That, not the hurricane, is what seems to be worrying Siesta Key business owners most.
For vacationers, anyway, there’s a silver lining. With below average prices this year, your Suncoast vacation and our Siesta Key resort hotel just got a little bit more affordable – allowing you to enjoy warmer and pleasant weather during the upcoming fall and winter season, along with the beautiful beaches and plenty of other attractions nearby.