Hurricane Irma || We are Naples

Our daughter Tabetha upon returning home

To the people of our community: We love you.

What I can share is my personal experience with Irma and the after effects of the storm as it applied to me for that is all I lived. In the days prior to Irma the spaghetti charts were all over the place and my husband Josh was packing for a business trip to Vegas. Living in Florida for most of my life and having been through many major storms, starting with Andrew when I was in first grade, the storm was honestly of little concern to me. As the days progressed and alarm was starting to grow so did my concerns for my family and their safety as evacuation was simply out of the question for plenty of reasons. I prepped the best I could without Josh and his big brown Tundra, you would be surprised just how much stuff I could fit into my baby Prius with two kids and myself. I have never felt cooler than driving through the parent pick line with three cases of water seat belted into the passenger seat… After almost a week of prepping and pacing Josh came home and the storm was two days away. No plywood, no generator, no problem! Right? We are Floridians, we have friends and beer, everything will be fine. (Insert a Jimmy Buffet song) So we decide on a family sleepover with our friends who are totally prepped and have a solid safe house, ours is two story wood frame, not great at 140mph winds. Saturday night we drink all the hurricane beer and have a great time, slightly windy and we jokingly mock the storm, big mistake. I have never been ashamed to admit when I am wrong and boy was I wrong, seriously underestimated Irma. Sunday comes around and things pick up, the power goes out at noon and things start to get a little real. Everyone is hanging in though and in great spirits. Late afternoon Sunday, its real, this is happening! Soooo, I don’t know about you but growing up in my house the only logical thing to do is to play outside in the hurricane, genius. There you have it four kids and two adults inside, the other four adults outside being less than intelligent but having a great time. As the eye wall of the storm passed over and we watched the neighbors pool screen crumble while standing on the porch in a couple inches of water we realized the gravity of the situation. Our humor was still not cast away and while the husbands had to hold the screen door shut against the wind you know we were all screaming “HODOR”, my Game of thrones fans get this. After the grueling winds had past we thought we had fared well, the power was out, screens down and their trampoline gone but not terrible.

News crews after Hurricane Irma

That night after the storm had settled the husbands went to check on our home not too far away. Our yard was flooded from the road to our house just up over our front stair, thank God we have an elevated two story home or else it would have been inside for sure. Josh spotted the majority of our neighbor’s lanai in our front yard, we had down trees, lost the swing set and trampoline. The next day we all went back and the extent of the damage grew and reality started to settle in. We noticed exterior damage to our homes siding, fascia, soffit, shingles and most daunting the foundation. Almost all sides of the house have cracks on the inside and outside, not huge but slightly terrifying when you are living there with your tiny humans and everything you hold dear. The living room floor took on rain water through the back door and popped out the bottom strip (that means small bugs can get in now!) Floors warped around that door and in front of our indoor stairs the flooring has popped up and shifted. The foundation of the house shifting has caused some other changes as well, it moved enough that we cannot open the side door at all. Now the dishwasher door squeaks when you open and close it because the cabinets shifted and all the toilets run… We have big problems to say the least but we are still able to live in our home while we wait for the insurance adjuster. Through the 10 days without power we were able to stay with our friends who had no power either but they had a generator and good company. It was a weird time finding gas, taking showers at friend’s relatives houses, driving to other cities to do laundry and trying to stay sane with children and no electronics.

The worst part of my experience was my family was without power as well and my father was home with hospice suffering from stage 4 cancer. The hospitals were full and nurses mostly spoken for, it was up to my mother to take care of him without power, cell phone or proper assistance. It was extremely unfair conditions I would not wish upon anyone living their end of days. After a week of suffering God answered our prayers and a room in hospice at the hospital opened, my father would not have to die hot and leave my mother alone without connection to the outside world. They live far out in the estates of Naples so human contact is difficult to come by especially when everyone has evacuated. The power came back on a few days later and everyone was overjoyed to start the cleaning and rebuilding process. The city was broken but our people were strong, compassionate and loving. I have heard horror stories of anger and greed in these recent disasters but I witnessed none. Complete strangers showed me grace and mercy (maybe because I looked a hot mess) really it was for my children. Everywhere I went to get supplies for my families I had my children and on multiple occasions people without kids offered to help me wheather it was loading my cart into my car or picking up cases of water. Sometimes it was just a playful smile and a quick joke to get the kiddos laughing. The point of sharing some of our experience with you is because one of our core statements at Naples Photo Booths is “We are Naples.” Naples is in our name for a reason and no it’s not for analytic's or because it’s easy to remember. It is because Naples is a part of us, it’s our home, our community, our life and an intricate part of who we are as people. We are Naples, when you are here you are family and we are here to help.

To our local businesses and families suffering from Hurricane Irma and in need of FUN relief for your guests or employees send us an e-mail! We are offering a 20% discount now through 10/31/2017. Message us with your experience and let us know how you plan to celebrate a new beginning, mention this article and we will apply your discount.