Saskatchewan residents with family or property in the path of Hurricane Irma are watching the storm’s progress with concern.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center has predicted Irma will remain at Category 4 or 5 as it passes Haiti on Thursday, nears the Turks and Caicos and parts of the Bahamas by Thursday night, and skirts Cuba on Friday night into Saturday. It will then likely head north toward Florida.
Regina’s Robert Murchie is worried about family members in Florida. His father runs a swamp tour business with Murchie’s stepmother and half-sister.
He has anxiously waited for hurricanes to pass through the state before, but watching this system is particularly taxing. Last August, his mother died and his stepfather died prior to that.
“They’re the last part of my parenting family, so it’s nerve-racking. It’s stressful. It’s hard to keep the emotions in,” he said.
“My dad has been very positive, but none of them have really been predicted this big before.”
The storm is expected to reach the state Sunday.
“I’m probably pretty calm. It’s just kind of the calm before the storm,” his father Rob Murchie Sr. told The Morning Edition from his home near Orlando on Thursday.
Not planning to leave
He said he has been “packing up all the little things that could be missiles” and said they’ve got a strong set of concrete bathrooms stocked with basic necessities should the weather become dangerous.
”If it gets to look like we’re really going to get slammed, we go in there and lock the door and let whatever happens, happen,” he said.
“You come outside and look and hope everything is still there.”
He said the worries of family far away are the hardest to handle in the aftermath.
“That’s the worst thing,” he said. “Power’s out, you don’t have cellphone service, you don’t have anything for three or four days, so everybody assumes the worst.”
In 2004, Hurricane Charley lingered with sustained strong winds for 12 hours. It was “like having a tornado sit over your house and just keep spinning,” Murchie said.
“That whole week was probably one of the worst weeks I’ve had to deal with, but it’s very hard now.”
Murchie doesn’t plan to leave the area. He’s worried he won’t be able to return home immediately after the storm passes and is concerned about his business.
His son plans to make the long drive to Florida if the predictions of intense damage come true.