For many residents of Florida, the Miami Herald is a major source of information, but to reporter Antonio Delgado, the Herald is now a sanctuary from the storm.
Delgado, a former editor for OCCC’s Pioneer, has worked for the El Nuevo Herald and the Miami Herald since 1988.
Lately, he’s been covering hurricanes.
This week, Delgado and his team of reporters have sheltered in the building that houses both newspapers. They chose to stay at the Herald’s office to report the news from the point of impact.
They began preparing for the storm on Monday, September 4.
Delgado said workers at the Herald were prepared to stay inside the building for at least three days. Each reporter brought enough food and water to last a week. Both papers will be reporting the news from the safety of indoors.
“There is a great deal of anxiety,” Delgado said. “Places like Home Depot and Wal-Mart have all been raided. There’s almost nothing left for those wanting to stay.”
Workers were allowed to bring their families.
In case they lose power during the storm, Delgado said the facility has electric generators on standby. Those generations have enough fuel to last a maximum of two weeks. He said supply trucks have been allowed to carry more than their legal capacity. Caravans of trucks can be seen going down the coast line to aid those who need shelter or supplies.
With three hurricanes leaving a wake of destruction across the Americas, Hurricane Irma had landed on the coast of Florida. Hurricane Katia hit the eastern coast of the Mexican mainland. Mexico City and Veracruz saw flooding. The storm followed an earthquake that he Veracruz and Hidalgo. Hurricane Jose’ moved away from Caribbean Islands on Saturday.
The only time three simultaneous hurricanes pelted the Gulf Coast was in 2010 when Hurricane Karl, Igor and Julia formed.
Originally, Hurricane Irma was a Category 5 storm, upgraded by the National Hurricane Center only days after its formation of the Coast of Africa. As of September 8, Irma was downgraded to a Category 4. Still, public officials have ordered the evacuation of several major cities.
Florida Governor Rick Scott urged residents to leave their homes. “Regardless of which coast you live on, be prepared to evacuate,” he said.
Irma hit Florida by Sunday afternoon.
“We were spared from the worst,” Delgado said. “But we are currently under tropical storm conditions and under curfew.”
The Miami Herald reported that more than 650,000 people have left the state.
Delgado said a majority of the businesses in Miami were closed and abandoned. Highways leading out of Florida have been packed. A majority of people, he said, took the threat seriously.
“You get used to these hurricanes when you live in south Florida,” he said. “The problem is that people are assuming that this will be like any other hurricane that hit the state. This hurricane is a monster that shouldn’t be ignored. If this hurricane hits south Florida head on, the construction of the majority of the buildings aren’t capable of withstanding 185 mile per hour winds.
After hitting Florida’s west coast, Hurricane Irma left six million without power and caused major flooding. Irma moved into Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Kentucky. Irma has since been downgraded to a tropical storm.
Places like Antigua and Barbuda were reduced to watery rubble. Photos of the Caribbean Isles show entire streets flooded over cars and boats in the harbor torn to shreds.
Caribbean Prime Minister Gaston Browne told CNN that the area was, “total devastation.”
“Barbuda right now is literally a rubble,” Browne said.
Jess Profit, a survivor of Tropical Storm Harvey, said people in Florida should prepare quickly.
“Hurry up and buy flood insurance, and pack everything you don’t want ruined up high,” Proffitt said. “I don’t know anything about Florida’s infrastructure to know if they have more things in place for flood waters, but it’s a Category 5 now.”
Several residents are concerned with the hurricanes size, and the lack of attention Floridians are giving to Irma.
“I believe that’s due to us as Floridians not really being impacted like other states, and cities have i.e. Katrina, and Harvey” Kei Phillips, a native Floridian, said. “Harvey was a level three or four I believe, and both [Houston and Louisiana] were completely submerged under water.”
Irma has been reported by the National Hurricane Center to be one of the deadliest storms in modern history. Hurricane Katrina, a Category 4 storm, killed over 1,200 people in Louisiana.
“Florida is a flood zone so if Harvey can do that to Texas just imagine what will happen to us,” Phillips said. He said if the water vital to Florida were to flood she would have no idea how to rebuild the life she once had. “I have no real plan but to be as prepared for this storm as I possible can.”
Phillips tried to book her flight last Friday afternoon out of Florida. She went to Allegiant and Expedia to take her to Jacksonville or Memphis but the prices had been raised. Tickets prices were more than $1000 for a single ticket. Airlines such as Southwest and Delta have brought in bigger planes to service the people of Florida.
Gimenez urged people to seek evacuation first and shelter second.
“I’ve been here 60 years. I’ve never seen this type of evacuation,” he said. “Certainly, during Hurricane Andrew there wasn’t this kind of evacuation, and we know we had these storm surges up to 17 feet. But these models are new. And this information is new.”
While Floridians try to run or bury themselves in their storm shelters, only time will tell what will happen when Hurricane Irma comes to the United States.
“Now is the time for us to come together and help each other out,” Gimenez said.
Antonio knows the risks of standing his ground in the face of the incoming storm. He doesn’t see it as a reckless venture; he sees as doing his duty.
“If I weren’t a reporter, I would have left the state by now,” Delgado said. “But someone has to report what’s going on and that’s why we’ve stayed. If not us, then who?”