GALION — Hurricane Irma left a devastating trail of destruction from the Caribbean to Georgia and beyond.
But Galion area residents who have relocated to points south, although they talk about damage and lack of electricity and the mess that will take weeks to clean, they’re most often using words like hope and thankful and safe when they describe this weekend’s storm.
Sarah VanAsdale Neumann is a 1978 Galion High School graduate. She lives in Tarpon Springs, on Florida’s west coast. On Monday, via social media, she said: The worst is over for me. I live about 12 miles west of Tampa in Tarpon Springs. We stayed, put up hurricane shutters…although the eye did not go directly over us, the wind was terrifying at 2 a.m.
“The shutters on windows were so loud as the wind beat on them. We knew they would hold, or at least the warranty with them said they would withstand a Cat 5 hurricane. But we were unsure if it would take our roof. By 3 a.m., it wasn’t as loud and we were able to get some sleep until we woke up at 6 because it was so hot in the house”
“No power equals no AC. We lost branches but no major damage.”
As with many in the Irma’s path, family and neighbors stuck together.
“Our youngest son stayed with us as his house had no protection. We took in our next door neighbors — two adults, two kids and a 70-pound Doberman.
“Now that it is over, (it was) not as bad as we expected but (we’re) glad it’s over. I think the TWO days of anxiety before it actually hit was far worse.”
Both of Neumann’s sons live in Clearwater. One son lost a trampoline and there was tree damage. The trampoline wasn’t actually lost, it was wrapped around a tree by the wind. The second fled north to get out of harm’s way.
Pauline Harris Eaton is a 1979 graduate who lives in Orlando.
“We are fine. The tree is fine. It lost some small branches but no large limbs. Neighbors behind us lost their fence. The wind blew it completely off its posts. We lost power about 8:10 p.m. and it’s still out. Looks like most damage in our neighborhood is tree limbs and palms bent completely over. One oak across the street bent far enough to pull up the root ball…lots of roof shingles blown off.”
During the storm she said feeling and hearing the winds and gusts were scary and she and her husband Archie Eaton, also a Galion graduate, could see and hear transformers blowing up on utility poles in the area.
“I am not a fan of hurricanes,” Pauline said.
Sandy Clouse Mansfield is a 1977 Galion graduate and lives in Arcadia, Florida and is married to Jim Mansfield, also a Galion graduate.
Jim is one of the sons of Dr. Bernard Mansfield of Galion. The Mansfield family had a home in St. John that was destroyed by Irma a few days before it hit Florida.
“Dr. Mansfield’s home was destroyed in the storm,” Sandy said. “The house now belongs to Jim and his brother John. We are planning to rebuild. The total island is destroyed and will take months to recover. So sad.”
Clouse welcomed family from Naples to stay with her during the storm.
“Naples took a hard hit,” she said. “So glad they were here! We have a generator to run our fridge and a hand water pump. We have a grill and are stocked with food. The wind was scary and the worst of it hit after dark. The eye passed right over us. It got calm and quiet for awhile then the wind began again. It was weird!”
“Our front yard all the way to the road is a big lake now. We’ll be clearing limbs and branches for days on our six-acre farm. Our horse, three dogs and three cats are fine and so are we. Feeling thankful. God is good.”
They said they will be without power for several days.
Kim Flick Wilson lives in Debary Florida and rode out the storm with some relatives in her home.
“We made it through with no problem. We lost power early, around 7 p.m. We stayed…I had my daughter, son-in-law and a 5-month-old baby here. A college friend evacuated from Tampa to my house. Minimal damage, no tree loss, generator is running to keep the fridge cold.”
Boomer Balliett, a 1978 Galion graduate, lives with his family in St. Petersburg, Florida.
“We stayed with my sister and Dad. He’s in his 80s. They are about three blocks from our house,” Balliett said. “It turned out better then we planned. We were very lucky when it made a slight turn to the right. Otherwise it would have rode the coast and would have increased in power. Each time we go through one of these we learn more. From what to do around the house, to replace my old generator. My fear was only for my three grandkids and my dad. It could have been a lot worse. With hurricane Elena and Charley we had a lot more tornadoes than this one.”
Cindy McClenathan Sharp lives in Lakeland, Florida and is a 1978 Galion graduate.
“We did not evacuate. If we could have evacuated, there was nowhere to go other than getting stuck on highways that were also in the path of Irma. We stayed in our home and hunkered down. We lived here when Hurricanes Charlie, Jeanne and Francis hit. Those three coming through back-to-back was nothing compared to Iris.
Cindy is a supervisor for crime prevention with the Lakeland Police Department.
The storm was bad enough that police officers hunkered down, too until the storm passed.
“It was frightening to say the least. Listening to the wind, which was strong and the pouring down rain all night long was scary. It was dark inside the house and outside. We couldn’t see anything, only hear.”
“I can share (that) we are feeling extremely blessed. Our home is intact. We have no power and a tree falling down hit our power line. We have limbs and debris everywhere. Our screened-in enclosure for the pool is torn to shreds. But I’m thankful. God is good!”
Mike Jones is from Galion and lives in Bradenton, Florida. He was pretty low-key about the storm.
“It wasn’t too bad, 100 mph gusts and a lot of trees and roof damage. All in all we were very lucky,” he said.
Karl Anschutz is a Galion graduate and a former Galion police officer.
He lives in Brooksville, Florida, about 40 miles north of Tampa, but didn’t stay there during the storm. He and his wife Pam left Friday night and headed north.
“We found ourselves stuck in traffic for eight hours. Once we got to Interstate 10, we found a roadside rest area. We slept in our car for about four hours. We then drove to Tallahassee, then up to Dothan, Alabama. We kept checking on rooms, which none were to be found. We then headed to Monroeville, Alabama, where we found a room, which was the last one they had.
“On Saturday into Sunday, we watched the weather, only finding the Hurricane was headed to this location. Pam and I decided to drive back to Ohio and also save about $400 in hotel bills. Pam did find out (on Monday) that we only had a little damage. We also just got electric back on. So we are headed back Tuesday.”
Marc Ruehle is a 1993 Galion High School graduate. He lives in Fort Myers, but stayed with friends during the storm in Cape Coral, prior to that, he lived on the Island of St. Maarten for a few hears.
When Irma hit Fort Myers, it hit as a Cat 3 storm,” he said. “When I finally got back to Fort Myers, it was chaos. Trees and damage and helicopters and lots of sirens.”
He said looters were busy breaking into buildings in the city, and that made for more confusion as others were trying to check on damages and loved ones.
This trampoline had just purchased a few months ago by Sarah’s son, who lives in Clearwater. It ended up wrapped around a neighborhood tree.
Mike Jones shared this photo of a house bombarded by tree limbs and debris as Irma passed through.
But ones, like many, were doing the best they could the morning following the storm. A grill worked just as good as a stoveop to cook breakfast.
When he returned after the storm to Fort Myers, he said there was lot of damage. There were also looters, so the sounds of chainsaws and generators were also joined by police helicopters and sirens.
Mike Jones shared this photo of Irma damage in Bradenton, Florida.
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