CHICAGO (CBS) — Some current and former Chicagoans rode out Hurricane Irma in Florida on Sunday, and said it was a unique but frightening experience.
Florida Aquarium President Roger Germann, who previously was executive vice president of the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, said he and his family rode out Irma on an icebreaker tug supply boat in Tampa Bay so he could be close to the aquarium in Tampa on Monday.
“It was not only a safe place to be, but a unique place for us to experience and watch a hurricane actually come overhead,” he said. “It was very unique for us, because we’ve been down here about 30 days, 40 days as far as living down here goes. So it was just kind of I think dealing with more of the emotions of the unknown of a hurricane.”
Germann joked the experience was a “rude welcoming” to Florida.
“The good news is that we all survived it. It makes us a little bit stronger,” he said.
Germann likened preparing for the hurricane to the way Chicagoans prepare for major snowstorms.
“Make sure you have the provisions, the non-perishables. You never know if the electricity is going to go out,” he said.
Margaret Pinaglia and her husband, Jim, live in Bridgeport, but also own a home in Cape Coral, Florida. They rode out the storm in Cape Coral after boarding up the house.
“We did second-guess ourselves as to whether this was a right decision,” Margaret Pinaglia said.
Irma had weakened to a Category 2 storm by the time it hit there, but Margaret said it was still “very scary” as the hurricane roared through. She said, when it hit, her husband “basically threw a pillow on the couch and laid down.”
“I went into the walk-in closet, where I had something to put over my head in case the roof blew off,” she said.
The Pinaglia’s watched movies to escape the anxiety-inducing hurricane coverage on TV. Ironically, that included the John Wayne film “In Harm’s Way,” Margaret said she and her husband would never stay through a hurricane again.
“I won’t lie. My husband and I both agree, if this ever happens again, we’re boarding up the house and leaving,” she said.
Pinaglia said the early indication is the hurricane ripped part of a gutter off their garage, and pulled one of their palm trees out of the ground.