Hurricane Irma Victim says she and her family are 'lucky'

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COLUMBIA - Floridians are in recovery mode days after Hurricane Irma washed over the coast.

“When I first saw things at 7:30 that morning, I couldn’t even speak,” said Richelle Hoenes, who is originally from Palmyra, Missouri, but now lives in Florida. 

Hoenes and her family, including her two children, 2 and 5, rode through Irma from their home in Tampa.

“Once it started 24 to 48 hours out, starting to look like we were going to get more and more and more of that eye-wall wind damage, is when I was saying to my husband, ‘We should probably make some preparations,’ Hoenes said. 

She said she prepared to be without resources for three days, but it could be more than a week before services are restored. But her home is still intact.

“We were definitely part of the lucky ones,” Hoenes said.

Still, the house is surrounded by downed tree limbs and branches. And the family is stuck with a much bigger problem – the hurricane left her home without power.

That makes it difficult for Hoenes – as she has to think on her feet to keep her children entertained throughout the day.

“We went the grocery store and made a whole day trip out of it,” Hoenes said. “The other day, we drove around for 45 minutes just to cool off and kill some time.”

But Hoenes said she has to use her car sparingly, since gas is still in short supply in the state.

“There have been a couple of times when I’ve thought to myself,  ‘I just need to book some tickets and get the heck out of Dodge and go back to Missouri where my family is and be in a house with air conditioning and all the amenities,” Hoenes said.

But she doesn’t want to make any rash decisions. Luckily, crews from all over the country are flocking to Florida’s aid.

Eighteen crews from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Missouri State Parks are going down to help with Irma recovery.

“We’re there to do whatever they need us to do,” said Brian Quinn of the Missouri Department of Natural Resoures. “Our intent was to lend a hand to our colleauges in state parks. But if for some reason that gets reassigned, we’ll be happy to do whatever it is that they need us to do.”

Hoenes said she’s appreciative of all crews and first responders who have come to help.

“Really from the bottom of my heart I don’t know that they will ever really understand how much we appreciate them leaving their families to come down here to help ours,” Hoenes said.


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