Wondering What’s Next: Hurricane Irma Hits Close To Home


Senior Lexsy Lutgert thinks about what is next for her community.

Marissa Joseph, Managing Editor

For many in Rome, the excitement of two days off due to the possibility of Hurricane Irma’s landfall was simply just that: excitement; however, for seniors Billy Biscoe and Lexsy Lutgert, Irma’s aftermath left them feeling uncertain of the future of their communities.


The eye of Irma landed in the U.S Virgin Islands as a Category 5 on Wednesday, Sept. 8, leaving the island reeling from devastation with many families, like Billy Biscoe’s, left with close to nothing.  


“In St. Thomas, all of our vegetation is now destroyed; a lot of buildings are destroyed. My house, in particular, looks like a bomb just destroyed the whole house. There was a whole bunch of water damage. This hurricane was not to be messed with,” Virgin Island native Biscoe said.


In the days following, Florida awaited Irma’s arrival, and many attempted to ready themselves for the consequences to come. Residents took to evacuation; however, many families, like Lexsy Lutgert’s, had nowhere to turn and were forced to wait out the storm.


“Not having the means to evacuate is extremely hard on people; the ordeal for some families to find a shelter in a shelter, not knowing whether the shelter they are taking refuge will be able to sustain the enormous hurricane heading their way, not realizing that shelters can only hold a certain amount of people and, as they arrive to the shelter being notified they are filled to their maximum,” Naples, FL, resident Lutgert said.  


As hurricanes are no foreign circumstance for many residents of the Caribbean and Florida, regular precautions were taken; however, no amount of preparation could prepare them for a hurricane of Irma’s magnitude.


“Ever since I was little we’ve had hurricanes, tropical storms, never this big, but you know, a hurricane is a hurricane. We always got extra gas, extra food. But this hurricane was just too strong and took everything down,” Biscoe said.


After the devastating impact of Hurricane Harvey earlier in the week, President Trump decided to keep the government funded through Dec. 8, 2017, and approved Hurricane relief funding. This is good news for those affected by Irma and Harvey in Houston and Florida; however, many U.S territories and Caribbean islands that rely on the U.S for relief are feeling left out of the efforts.


“To be honest, St. Thomas particularly, I do not think they will be able to rebound as fast. Our resources are extremely limited, especially after this horrendous attack of mother nature. The government is gonna do everything that they can, but my family and other families in St. Thomas are going to have to move somewhere else,” Biscoe said.


One thing is certain, in the aftermath of Irma, where communities have been physically damaged, they have been strengthened emotionally.  Although for those away from home, the longing was ever-present to be with their families.


“Everybody is coming together as a community, which is really special. It’s always been look out for your neighbors, look out for the people of St. Thomas, but what’s really killing me is I don’t even know when I’m gonna home. That’s what really gonna kill me for quite a while,” Biscoe said.