As a South African‚ Greg Badenhorst is accustomed to reports about violence but he had never experienced anything like the wrath of Mother Nature.
The 40-year-old Capetonian decided to forgo calls to evacuate his home in the state of Florida and experience Hurricane Irma first-hand.
He wanted to be one of the few who would live to tell the tale. Speaking to TimesLIVE he admitted that it was not a wise call.
“Irma has been greatly hyped up in the media like you wouldn’t believe it‚ last week that was all everyone was talking about” said Badenhorst.
By Sunday evening‚ South African time‚ most electrical appliances had stopped working. Luckily the lights were spared said a relieved Badenhorst.
“The wind is blowing so hard‚ I can’t go outside to take any footage of the storm” said Badenhorst — something that he had planned to do.
“I am alone in my house everyone else left. Fort Lauderdale is a ghost town literally”.
Badenhorst said that on Saturday evening tornadoes had formed even before Irma could make landfall.
Last year when a small storm hit Florida he was in New York and missed out.
“I have never in my 40 years experienced such bad weather but this experiment is done. I can’t even leave my house now. Never again”.
Badenhorst moved to the US five years ago and works as an estate manager in Florida and New York.
Badenhorst said that “the 24/7 hype on Irma was bad” — it flooded the pages of every newspaper and all television screens.
“By Friday everything went eerie and quiet like from an apocalypse movie. The highways were jammed as people were trying to leave — [they were] sitting in traffic for hours”.
Badenhorst said that on Thursday he watched people fighting for water and gas at supermarkets when he tried to get some supplies. However he decided to be a ‘’good South African’’ and walked away from the skirmishes.
“The supermarkets were full of people and their shelves were empty. The supermarkets normally has 30 varieties of one item‚ Thursday they had none. You can imagine that tempers were really short. People were freaking out but I remained calm. I think people’s survival instincts just kicked in.”
Badenhorst said he tries to stay in regular contact with his concerned family while communication lines are still open.
While he had wished to experience the hurricane‚ now he only wishes for the storm to pass.
“I’ve had enough of Irma for now‚” he said.