Hurricane Irma was a Category 4 storm when it hit the Keys, Naples and Marco Island. It weakened as it moved up Florida to a Category 2 by the time it hit Tampa. Still., that meant winds of 110 miles per hour, which did plenty of damage. They left more than 6.5 million residents without power, including a man who relocated to Dade City, near Tampa, from Bloomington. Ryan Gamage said his parents decided to leave and return to safety in Central Illinois, but he stayed and rode out the storm.
"I enjoy storms, I like them, I've never experienced a hurricane before, so I was like, 'well, I kind of want to experience one to see what it's like.' And my girlfriend is down here and her family, so I had all them out here to the house. They live in Valrico, Florida just outside of Tampa, so I had them all come here where I figured it was a little safer for them," he explained over Skype.
Gamage says when the storm first arrived it was late afternoon, so they were able to witness the beginning of the wind and rain. But as the night progressed so, too, did Irma's intensity.
"The worst came after like 10 or 11, and the heaviest was between 12 and 2. So it was dark outside, and you couldn't see anything since there were no lights, so that was a little scary."
Gamage said his house withstood Irma's winds, although there were plenty of trees down throughout his neighborhood, some blocking roads. His power also went out last night at 6 p.m. and has yet to return, so he, his girlfriend, and her family are still hunkered down at his house relying on his generator and the food and bottled water they stocked up on before the storm hit. Still, he says he's just relieved everyone is alright.