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Staying on island a 'hellacious'' experience, resident says

Despite a mandatory evacuation order, some Longboat Key residents stayed in their island homes.

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  • | 8:10 a.m. September 14, 2017
  • Longboat Key
  • Neighbors
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After returning from a trip to Alaska on Friday, Sept. 8, Bob and Shannon Gault got to work preparing their home for Hurricane Irma.

First they moved all their pots and plants inside, tied down their two boats and moved the rest of their belongings inside.

Despite a mandatory evacuation order, the Gaults stayed put. By the time they had moved all their belongings and secured their home, it was midday Saturday and the winds were picking up.

“The rain was torrential and it was driven so hard that it was coming in under the tracks of our hurricane sliders.”


— Bob Gault

Their home was built to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, so they felt safe staying. However, the “unnerving roar” and “the gusts that would slam” against their windows made it an experience Bob Gault said no one would want to go through.

“It was hellacious, in a word,” he said. “It was hellacious. We didn’t have much information because the power was out as of 3 p.m. on Saturday.”

And though their house stood, it did take on some water.

“The rain was torrential and it was driven so hard that it was coming in under the tracks of our hurricane sliders,” Gault said.

They used a wet vac to suck up the water, but they couldn’t keep up.

The Gaults have owned their home since 2007 but have had property in the area since 1997. Gault said they have never had a weather-related problem before when hurricanes and tropical storms rolled through.

Their home backs up to Sarasota Bay. With the high winds coming straight off the bay, Gault said waves crashed into the seawall, and the water sprayed straight up in the air.

Despite the frightening sights and sounds, Gault said he is thankful he and his wife were home to bail out some of the water that crept into their home.

Next time, though, Gault said they won’t be taking a trip with a hurricane on its way and will secure their belongings sooner.

“You don’t want to risk it,” he said. “It’s best to get out.”



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