September 8, 2017

This post has nothing to do with foreclosure, but with what could happen in Florida as a result of Hurricane Irma. I know: I have been through nine (9) hurricanes in my 38 years of living in Florida, including Hurricane Wilma, the eye of which passed right over my home in Boca Raton at the time and which devastated Boca Raton back in 2005. Wilma was a strong Category 3 (Irma is a Cat 4 or 5, depending on the hour and location), and was much smaller than Irma, which is larger in size than the entire state of Florida (that being over 400 miles from one side to the other).

What those who have never been through a hurricane don’t realize is that it is not just the storm itself, but the aftermath. Yes, the storm is terrifying (winds louder than a freight train for hours on end, windows being blown out, roofs being ripped off houses, roof tiles being hurtled through the air at over 100 mph, flooding, etc.), but what happens following the storm is never revealed in the news.

You can lose electricity for weeks. That means no air conditioning; all of your food goes bad and has to be thrown out; you cannot use your pool (if you have one); and everything is pitch black at night, with no streetlights, traffic lights, or otherwise. There are curfews as well, and looting and break-ins are very common as there is no light and the law enforcement agencies are overburdened.

The garbage (including the refrigerator(s) and freezer(s) of food you have to throw out) piles up as the waste companies are overburdened, and if the roads are blocked by fallen trees (as many of them in Boca Raton were after Wilma), they cannot even get through for days on end. That means that the garbage sits in the 90+ degree heat and humidity during the day, and is attacked by raccoons, rats, and stray animals at night. The garbage is then out in the street, festering in the heat, bringing “rot worms” and other pests.

Two days after the rain stops, mosquito eggs begin hatching, so literally thousands of mosquitos fill the air. Flies surround the rotting garbage. Cockroaches are everywhere due to all of the waste. Snakes come out of the woods to feed as well.

In Boca Raton after Wilma, both the entrance and exit to numerous neighborhoods were blocked by fallen banyan trees (which have shallow but outward root systems, and are easily toppled by high winds). Residents had to walk or hitchike to Home Depot to buy chain saws, then spend days cutting up the fallen trees just to be able to drive out of the neighborhood.

There is no food in the stores and no gas in the gas stations. It can take days for trucks to deliver groceries, water, and gas. You live on dry goods (crackers, cookies) and cold canned goods.

No air moves in your home. It is stifling, humid, and takes all of the energy out of you.

To take a “shower”, you have to heat up a pot of water on the grill and pour one coffee cup or pitcher of water over yourself at a time (assuming you have a grill, which many people do not have).

With no electricity and probably no internet (and with the cell towers and lines being generally downed), there is no computer or cell phone access.

The point of this post is to let those of you out there know that the effects of a hurricane are not over once the storm passes, and that the worst is the aftermath. This is when the victims need the most help, and we implore everyone to be aware of this and help in whatever way you can. This is going to be a statewide disaster for Florida the likes of which have never occurred before.

We thank you in advance for any help you can give, and pray for everyone in the path of this horrible storm.

Jeff Barnes, Esq., www.ForeclosureDefenseNationwide.com