In September, several Kharkivites found themselves in the middle of the dangerous Irma hurricane in Florida, the USA by accident.
One of them, Yulia Dun, who came back from the USA to Kharkiv last week, told Kharkiv Observer about the storm she went through.
Yulia Dun, a Kharkiv coach in figure skating, went to Florida at the end of August to visit her brother Dmytro who lives and works in the town of Palm Beach.
The peaceful vacation was suddenly pierced by anxiety when on Monday, September 4, the news about Irma hurricane approaching the USA coast broke out.
Yulia tells that people started buying drinking water, bread, batteries and canned food in mass. By September 6, the supermarkets and food stores ran out of these goods. “We did not buy food as a reserve as we were not really scared. However the people were panicking,” says Yulia. Also, she and her friends had problems to fuel their car as all the gas stations nearby ran out of gas.
The streets of Palm Beach got almost deserted on September 6. However, till September 9 many young people spent time at the beach watching the ocean. There were even some surfers enjoying the high waves, says Yulia.
Kharkivite notes that before Irma arrival, the ocean water temperature was incredibly high, over 30 degrees Celsius, and that made her think that such devastating natural disasters demonstrate the consequences of global climate changes.
In different parts of the town, the shelters were arranged, and the map was provided to choose the most convenient place to hide. However, Yulia and Dmytro decided to endure Irma attack at their friends’ little restaurant together with a dozen of their friends and a cat.
They settled in the concrete room with the windows boarded up on the second floor, which would not be flooded in case of high water. They had a generator and some food. Yulia updated her reports on FB and Instagram with ‘irmageddon’ hashtag for informing her Kharkiv family and friends who were greatly concerned about the situation.
Although previously the hurricane arrival was expected on Friday, September 8, it started on Saturday and reached its peak on Sunday, September 10. In the Monday morning of September 11, the sun was shining brightly already.
What Yulia was particularly impressed with during stormy days were the swift skillful actions of the local rescuers’ services and police.
“The curfew was ordered in Palm Beach since Saturday afternoon, and everyone who went out was detained. Those days the police arrested about 40 people, and later half of them appeared to be looters and were imprisoned,” remembers Yulia.
Also, cleaning the territory rapidly after the storm was impressive: 24 hours after the disaster almost nothing reminded about its impact, the broken trees and debris were removed, the stores opened.
“After all, the hurricane was not as powerful and devastating for Palm Beach as it was expected to be,” Yulia says. “We were lucky that the hurricane went left side. It lost part of its power over Cuba and the Caribbean and faded down a bit — we got three points out of five maximum. There were no huge ruining or casualties. It was much worse for the Florida Keys, for instance.”
She notes that people’s safety depended to a great extent on their decision not to be reckless and to follow the security rules.
Yulia also states that she and her friends hoped for the best, believed that everything would be fine, and their positive thinking was really helpful in this critical situation.
Text: Olena Sokolynska
Photo: Yulia Dun