Hurricane Irma: Marco couple speaks of damage
For about 45 minutes, Marco Island was calm — eerily calm. That’s when Shelli Connelly and her husband, Charlie, knew they were in the eye of Hurricane Irma.
“It was crazy,” Shelli Connelly, 55, said. “We went out and could see all of the damage that’s been done so far, and we know it’s not over yet.”
The Connellys have lived on Marco Island for more than two decades and said they never expected to be directly hit by a storm like Irma, which made landfall on the island shortly after 3:30 p.m.
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“In the 21 years that we’ve lived here, I just never thought that we’d experience this because so many times we’ve been close, but it’s never directly hit us,” Shelli Connelly said.
The two decided to stay on the island due to the uncertainty of the storm’s path; until Friday it was unclear if the hurricane would hit the western or eastern side of the state. The couple also have four dogs, which makes traveling, or going to a county shelter, difficult.
They weren’t too worried about remaining on the island, despite the city's mandatory evacuation order, but their daughter was.
“I was definitely worried about them and the friends we have that stayed since nothing like this has ever hit Marco directly,” said Larae Jones, the Connellys' daughter who lives in New Jersey, “but they are seasoned veterans of hurricanes, and they made sure they were fully prepped and in the safest place they could go.”
Shelli Connelly said she felt confident that she and her husband — and more importantly, their building — would be able to handle anything Irma threw their way.
“We’re on the sixth floor of a condo and have hurricane shutters, so we knew we were pretty safe,” Shelli Connelly said. “As of right now, there’s no damage to our building.”
The building across the street, however, is a different story; the condo, which did not have hurricane shutters, has several broken windows, and in a nearby parking garage, the wind slammed the cars into each other.
Of course, as lucky as the Connellys feel now, they know they're not in the clear yet.
"We still have the storm surge to deal with," which could be as high as 15 feet, "so we're concerned about that, mostly for our friends who live on the water," Shelli Connelly said.