Surviving Irma’s wrath

Former southwest Minnesota women safe after riding out hurricane

Submitted photo Kathy Meyer, formerly of Hazel Run, and her daughter, Shelly Meyer, formerly of Marshall, live in Clermont, Florida, and experienced the fury of Hurricane Irma.

To say that Kathy Meyer has seen some interesting weather lately would be an understatement. Meyer, who retired in June of 2016 from Granite Falls Bank after 25 years, moved to Florida and recently rode out Hurricane Irma.

She and her daughter, Michelle “Shelly” Meyer, who is formerly of Marshall, moved to Orlando, Fla., and then a couple months ago moved to Clermont, Fla. Shelly works at Walt Disney World in the parking department.

Meyer kept an eye on Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful hurricanes recorded. More than half of Florida was without electricity as of Tuesday, officials said.

The Meyers were safe in Clermont, which is about 20 miles west of Orlando.

“Irma was a Category 4 initially and then was downgraded to a Cat 1, and had 75 to 90 mile an hour winds,” Meyer said. “The eye moved over us and back. We had no damage to our vehicle or apartment complex. No trees were damaged fortunately.”

Hurricane Irma came through Florida after midnight, Meyer said. “It was totally dark. We couldn’t see anything.”

Meyer drives in with Shelly to work three or four times a week. She spends her time trading Sorcery of the Magic Kingdom cards. Driving to work Tuesday morning they saw water on the road, trees down, debris and leaves, Meyer said.

“We saw a traffic light out,” she said.

Meyer said the Magic Kingdom theme park had light damage.

“All the parks have electricity,” she said, “although the lights keep flickering. The trees are propped up to save them. A few rides aren’t operating such as the Jungle Cruise. There are trees that were downed. They haven’t said when it will open.”

Tourism is big business in Florida.

“Disney World closed down for two days so revenue is way down,” she said.

Meyer said a lot of places are closed in Florida.

“Places are closed until things can get fixed, so people are without jobs,” she said. “Things have to be fixed up and be safe again.”

She spoke to a couple at Disney World from Tennessee who were supposed to leave Sunday but couldn’t get a flight out because of the hurricanes.

“The earliest they can go is Thursday,” Meyer said.

Campers in the Fort Wilderness campground had to be evacuated and “put up in the resorts,” she said.

Meyer said other parts of Florida had more damage such as Kissimmee, Fla., which is south of Orlando. Kissimmee is flooded and trees were downed.

“Emergency vehicles were sent to Texas but they called them back. They needed them in Florida. Trucks are parked at Epcot, Magic Kingdom and at the Daytona Speedway. So many states have sent workers. Fifteen trucks from Minnesota headed to Florida Sunday (to help restore electricity).”

Hurricane Jose is on the horizon.

“Jose is coming,” she said. “We don’t know which way it will head. (Hurricane) Katia is headed toward Mexico.”

Having this many hurricanes back to back is unheard of, Meyer said.

“It’s never happened,” she said.

Meyer said this past summer was an “unusually hot summer. It was in the 90s all summer.” The winter was “unusually warm. I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas in shorts. It was 80 degrees. The lowest it got was 73.”

Meyer said when she and her daughter were living in Minnesota, they would visit Florida every year for two to three weeks at a time and liked it.

“I said, ‘when I retire we are moving there,'” she said. “We like it.”