Western New Yorkers in Florida give firsthand account of Hurricane Irma

FORT MYERS, FL. (WIVB) — Several western New Yorkers are okay Sunday night after braving hurricane Irma as it made landfall in Florida.

Many people who were right in the destructive path of Hurricane Irma shared videos of powerful wind gusts and heavy downpours in their areas.

“This is obviously the backside of the storm,” said Andrew Beimler, who’s from Williamsville.

Beimler drove down to Florida to wait out the storm with his parents in Fort Myers.

“It’s coming and it’s starting to come strong,” said Beimler.

In video captured by Beimler, wind gusts were so strong, they knocked down a tree in his area. He says he wanted to help his mother since his stepfather is bed ridden.

“She was left to fend for herself and I knew she couldn’t ride this storm,” said Beimler.

Beimler says they lost power early Sunday afternoon, hours before Irma hit. He says he has several generators and was able to go to a family friend’s house a few miles away, but even there streets are flooded.

“I fully expect when I go back, I fully expect to see water 4 or 5 feet high where my mother’s place is,” said Beimler.

Hurricane Irma tore through Naples earlier Sunday afternoon.

The mayor of Naples, Bill Barnett, has family in western New York. He says most people evacuated.

“Residents payed attention early many of them evacuated at the first sign that we might have a hurricane coming in,” said Mayor Bill Barnett.

Residents say they’ve been anxious for Irma to finally pass and now they’re even more anxious to see what’s left behind.

Mayor Barnett says the Naples area dodged a bullet because he says the storm surge isn’t as bad as predicted. The storm surge there was expected to be more than 10 feet of water which Barnett says would’ve been catastrophic.

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