Former Black Hawk College student and 15 year resident of the Quad Cities, Imon Ahmed, weathered out Hurricane Irma from Orlando. Additionally, Farida Chowdhury, who lives in Port St Lucie, took in her family, who were threatened by the brunt of the hurricane in Ft Lauderdale. Ahmed is the sister of current Black Hawk College Professor Ferdaus Ahmad, and Chowdhury is Professor Ahmad’s cousin.
Before It Hit
Imon Ahmed lives in Orlando, Florida and works as a Senior Manager of Finance at Brambles, Inc.. Ahmed has several family members and friends in Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Port St. Lucie, Miami, and Tampa. Before Hurricane Irma battered Florida, Ahmed said that people either left their homes to stay with relatives or friends or in hotels, or chose to stay at home. Ahmed decided to stay at home, but was prepared to evacuate if necessary.
Farida Chowdhury lives in Port St Lucie and is a second grade teacher at Fairlawn Elementary in Ft. Pierce. Chowdhury’s family took shelter at her home because they were directly in the path of the hurricane in Ft. Lauderdale.
Ahmed emphasized that communication about the danger of the storm by officials was excellent, which saved many people from danger. “This has been one of the most communicated natural disasters,” she said. “Media and local government did a phenomenal job in communicating information about Irma. As a result, casualty and property damages were at a minimum. People took mandatory evacuation orders seriously, which saved lives.”
Ahmed noted some steps local residents took to prepare for the storm, such as, “boarding up their windows, bringing in things from outside and putting sandbags in front of their property.” She also commented that residents made sure they had, “canned food, non perishables, water, batteries, generators” on hand.
During the Hurricane
In her area of Orlando, Ahmed experienced a category one hurricane with torrential rainfall and winds up to 80 miles per hour. Not surprisingly, Ahmed described the hurricane as “quite traumatic.”
Ahmed sheltered in her home as the hurricane raged outside, “It felt like everything surrounding the house was getting ripped off of the ground. It sounded like a freight train for 5 hours straight.”
And that is just what a category one hurricane feels like. Ahmed said, “I can’t imagine what a level four hurricane would feel like. I hope I never have to find out. I think everyone who experienced Irma will remember that really scary and long night.”
Fortunately, Ahmed and Chowdhury and their families came out of the storm unharmed. However, property damage will take its toll on many local residents financially. Ahmed’s family wasn’t impacted by flooding, but they still suffered damage from natural debris, “Mainly lots of uprooted trees, damaged roof and windows,” Ahmed said. “I do not know of anyone who suffered flood damage. But there has been significant flooding in Miami and Orlando.”
Chowdhury’s own property was not damaged, however, her rental properties had downed trees and damage to fencing.
After Irma was gone, other problems arose in it’s wake. Ahmed commented, “Most people lost power, water and internet for several days. That was frustrating because of the heat and having no connectivity. We were under 24-hour curfew in Orlando to keep people safe and expedite clean up and rescue work.”
However, as in any disaster, people always come together to help each other out and join together to overcome any hardship that outside forces might place on us. After Hurricane Irma, the selflessness, courage, and love for neighbor that many people expressed to others was truly outstanding.
“Our community did a wonderful job helping each other with protecting the properties,” Chowdhury said. “Many reach out through religious networks.”
Ahmed said that the support from local government, law enforcement and the community has been extraordinary. “People are notified where to get help. Neighbors are helping neighbors. People are making conscious efforts to buy local to help out the local businesses that were closed for a few days and encountered significant loss.”
The company Ahmed works for, Brambles Inc., made efforts to ensure the safety of all its employees. Ahmed said, “My company sent communications to all employees to find out if they needed help of any sort.”
For more about Hurricane Irma, stay on the look-out for an upcoming article with information on the storm.
How You Can Help People Affected by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey:
Donate for Irma relief: https://www.redcross.org/donate/hurricane-irma-donations?campname=irma&campmedium=aspot
Donate for Harvey relief: https://www.redcross.org/donate/hurricane-harvey
Donate to provide clean water for those affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma: https://www.gofundme.com/augustanawalkforwater