Hurricane Irma was reported as devastating, unprecedented, and catastrophic as it moved closer and closer to Florida. Me and The Mouse travel specialists were incredibly busy assisting their clients in adjusting their travel plans. As a life long Midwestern family, newly Floridians, this was our first hurricane. We gathered supplies (flashlights, batteries, water, non-perishable snacks) and placed all exterior items into the garage so that they wouldn’t become a hazard. Steel shutters were placed over every window in the house. It was all a bit unsettling. The storm continued to shift west and with less than 24 hours before impacting us it was predicted to be a category 4 (winds ranging from 131-155 mph), as it passed over our community.
As I have shared before, my oldest son is living with Fragile X Syndrome. We anticipated the storm would be very intense, we would lose power and maybe even water. We realized as the day progressed that this storm was going to be more intense than perhaps he or we were ready for. My husband and I decided it was time to leave for a safer location. Although availability was very limited, the amazing Cast Members at the reservation center and guest services went above and beyond to help us.
We quickly packed our belongings and headed east to Caribbean Beach Resort. Gas stations, grocery/convenience stores, and restaurants were already closed in anticipation of the storm. Upon arrival, we quickly checked in, settled into our room, and realized we had made the right decision to evacuate.
Although the parks were closed due to the pending storm, there were many reports on social media from guests at various resorts of the activities that Cast members put together to help keep everyone entertained. Even the pools remained open that morning! Updates were frequently sent via in room voicemail and channel 3. Food service and housekeeping was limited and suggestions were made to stock up on water and snacks. A curfew was imposed for safety and housekeeping services would be unavailable. Disney movies were playing continually on tv and would continue to play even if cable was disrupted, a much appreciated distraction.
We weathered the storm, in fact, we slept through the most intense portion of the storm. We never lost power, nor wi-fi, and felt safe. Once the storm had passed, the curfew remained in effect to allow the damage to be surveyed to ensure it was safe for us to leave the room. Food service didn’t resume until 1 pm at our resort, but had begun earlier for other resorts. Character meet and greets were occurring to help pass the time while guests waited for food.
Cast members exemplified incredible spirit, impeccable service, and always putting the needs of the guests first! We were safe and fortunate we didn’t suffer the devastation that many continue to deal with. Although, I am appreciative of this experience, my hope is this was a once in a lifetime experience!