A former resident of Steinbach is safe and sound after Hurricane Irma ripped through her neighbourhood over the weekend.
Michelle Unger Koop has been in Florida since 2002. Today, she lives in St.Petersburg and because her home is ten feet above sea level, she received a mandatory evacuation notice.
According to Unger Koop, winds began to increase around noon on Sunday. By 5 pm, they were gusting to about 50 miles per hour. Later in the evening, there were steady winds of about 75 mph with gusts near 100 mph. Then at around 3:30 am, the eye of the storm passed through.
"It got completely calm, no wind, it was just beautiful and that lasted for maybe ten to fifteen minutes and the winds picked up again and lasted for another two hours," she recalls. "It was the weirdest feeling because you know that there's more to come and you know what can come."
She says it was very eerie to have it completely calm, yet everything was blacked out with no stars visible.
Unger Koop has now been allowed back home. She notes, fortunately, there was no flooding to her home and though millions woke up Monday morning without power, that's not the case for Unger Koop. She adds there was minimal damage to her property, though her neighbour's shed is now in her backyard and a few trees were downed in her neighbourhood.
"I was very lucky with everything, that's how it all turned out," she says.
Having lived in Florida now for 15 years, Unger Koop says this isn't her first hurricane. She was in Orlando for Hurricane Charley in 2004 and recalls two other hurricanes hit there within a six-week span.
"I would rather go through five hundred snow storms than a hurricane," she admits. "You can prepare for hurricanes which is amazing, but the destruction with a hurricane, I feel far exceeds what a snow storm will do."
Unger Koop says Hurricane Irma was not as bad as expected for St.Petersburg, but she says for others in the wake it will be very difficult as they stare at a very lengthy rebuilding process.