Some in South Florida 'elated' Hurricane Irma wasn't worse for them

Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel
By Michael Mayo

Published September 16, 2017


They lined up like birds on a wire on a second-floor breezeway, watching palm trees bend in the wind and a police cruiser pull up to an empty Publix in the distance. They didn’t have power. They were hot. They were cooped up.

A dozen residents emerged from their dark and shuttered condominiums at Sheridan by the Beach in Hollywood a little past noon Sunday, just as Hurricane Irma’s tropical-storm force winds shifted direction, and they smiled and laughed and chirped.

“Elated — we’re elated,” Jim Pinkerton said. “This is nothing.”

Some had red Solo cups and others had beers, tailgating on a football Sunday without football.

Allison Shambora told how she was nine years old when Hurricane Andrew tore through her home near Miami’s Metrozoo, and how she huddled under a mattress in a bathtub to survive a shredding roof and collapsing ceiling.


“This just doesn’t compare,” she said. “At least not here. We got so lucky.”

Steve Clements told how he was in Dallas on business and flew back to South Florida on Thursday to be with his wife. They moved to South Florida two years ago from Indiana. This was their first hurricane.

“It wasn’t that bad for us,” Michellene Clements said

“I slept pretty well — until the tornado warning alert on my phone woke me up,” Steve Clements said.

That was at 4:30 a.m.

“I’m from Arkansas,” Jim Pinkerton, 73, said. “I’ve heard those before.”


His daughter, DeeAnn Sitton, nodded in agreement. She is visiting from Oklahoma this week.

“I’m used to tornadoes,” she said. “But hurricanes are new for me.”

They made the best of it here at Sheridan by the Beach, which is actually 1 miles from the ocean’s edge.

They were relieved because they were safe and relatively comfortable — far from the brunt of Irma’s core but not far enough from her wide and furious reach — in their own homes.

They defied official orders and remained behind in an evacuation zone, a third of a mile east of Federal Highway.


They each did personal calculations and came up with the same answer: A reinforced concrete building built like a bunker with shuttered windows would be better than the unknown of a road trip that could intersect with the storm.

Some residents left, fleeing for Orlando and points north.

“We’re glad we didn’t leave, because it would be a nightmare getting back,” Jim Pinkerton said.

Ann Pinkerton, his wife, said she has been through 10 hurricanes. When they saw the track veer west later in the week and talked to neighbors, they decided to stay.

“I’d never been to Florida before,” said her daughter DeeAnn. “I just figured if everyone else was staying, it would be OK. Blind faith.”

Steve Clements stared at a parking lot storm drain sucking down all the water. The puddles in the roadway could be measured in inches, not feet.

“The only thing I was worried about was the surge, but we got off pretty easy,” Clements mused.

Some residents sipped drinks. Others made plans for a neighborhood cookout later in the evening. They’d bring thawing frozen items. The man known as the mayor of the building, Bob, would be making Sloppy Joes.

A short time later, the cellphone tornado alarms went off again. They headed back to shelter inside.

The impromptu party was over. Hurricane Irma’s rollicking ride rolled on.