Meet Florida man, Vernon McAvoy. Even in the face of a raging hurricane, he was calm. And he did the one thing emergency officials warned people not to do. He rode out Hurricane Irma, from his trailer, seated in a La-Z-Boy recliner.
We caught up with McAvoy while checking out the damage at the RV park he lives in near Naples, not far from where Irma made landfall along Florida's west coast. Trees were strewn all over the roads through the park, some landing on top of mobile homes and cars. Some of the RVs had been toppled over. Others had shredded metal sticking out from the sides. The house he occupied survived mostly unscathed. And so did he. Although at points with the gusts whipping through, he wasn’t so sure he would. “Actually I thought, yeah this could be it,” McAvoy said, almost casual about surviving the storm that ripped apart the neighborhood.
So what did it sound like? He told us, “I keep hearing people say it sounded like a freight train, which is kind of an understatement. I grew up around trains and it didn't sound like no freight train. It was horrendous.”
And what did it feel like? McAvoy described the height of Irma passing over like this, “I got three or four gusts that just shook the snot out of the house. It just felt like you're kind of on speed bumps on the highway. It just shook for just a brief moment. Did that maybe a half dozen times. It was like, whoa, little rush.”
McAvoy was lucky. A neighbor less than 50 feet from his back door had her home destroyed. The roof was peeled back and ripped off like a can of sardines. All while McAvoy watched, “As long as that roof was going that way, I was safe. If it was coming this way, it was time to get out.”
He had emergency supplies and an escape plan. If things got really rough, McAvoy said he’d jump into his van and drive to a nearby hospital less than 200 yards from his house.
Surviving Hurricane Irma in a place where so many trailers crumpled isn’t a bragging point for McAvoy. Instead, he says he simply took the storm in stride, “Just another day in Florida, you know. What can I say?”