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A hotel defies the storm

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017 | World News

If the out there is "only" a hurricane of the category 3, one would not want to experience 4 or even 5. A crammed pile of people is experiencing the hurricane on Florida's West Coast in a small hotel.

Vanishing Point "Days Inn": The hotel is located in Bonita Springs on the edge of the main road, gray and somewhat tainted. Otherwise flooded by the sun of Florida, now the sky falls on the house. With deafening noise the storm rushes on the building – over and over again. "Irma", the hurricane, sends true floods. Not far from Bonita Springs, the eye of the hurricane arrives on Sunday afternoon (local time), after he had hurled his whole force to the southern tip of Florida.

The "Days Inn" is still in the zone, where the authorities of the Lee County actually ordered the evacuation. Nevertheless, it becomes the vanishing point for people from the region. Around 100 people offer protection on this memorable Sunday. People know: The purpose building is stable enough to defy "Irma". Everything built in the area after 1992 must be hurricane-proof. At that time Hurricane "Andrew" devastated much of Florida, the authorities learned from it.

  It is a unique blend of people who have gathered at the Days Inn. Some are excited. What will become of their possessions, which they must leave behind. Others are very cool, others just do so. There are important people, who always know exactly what will happen next, and who will never go out with good advice. Tom Tortorice, a 89-year-old Koreakrieg veteran. He is much less interested in the storm than the question of why the North Korean conflict is not finally solved.

Anita Pereira (41) also belongs to the illustrious coincidence. Your home is located 45 minutes south of Fort Myers on the island of Marco Island. "The area was forced evacuated," says the native Ravensburgerin. "Everyone had to get off the island, because it was too dangerous to stay there." With her two daughters and husband she now tries to expose the storm.

Coconuts can become bullets
"We feel safer here," she says. They had booked a room close to the stairwell, this was built of concrete. Bathrooms without windows, otherwise unpopular, are a stroke of luck, in hurricane times. "I put sleeping bags in the tub so that it is as comfortable as possible for the children," says Pereira.

Outside in the hotel garden, the palm fronds are horizontal in the wind, when one of these primordial gusts goes through again. The coconuts rock dangerously. On the other hand, they were taken off, the sweet fruits can become dangerous bullets in the hurricane. The wind whistles along the windows, a gray wall of water blocking the view.

Boredom in the emergency room
The hotel management barracks the entrance door. Carriages, which are usually used to transport the travelers' luggage, serve as a safeguard – it also yields. A few volunteers repair the door. One drives his pick-up truck as a backup from the outside against the hotel portal.

In the staircase, it is dark during the day, the batteries of the emergency lamps hold only a few hours. Even in the hallways, it is duster, behind individual room doors the chorus of small children can be heard. You are bored, here in the emergency room.

"You will always have a plate"
In the breakfast room of the "Days Inn" one is moved together. After the stream had failed several times before, he is now finally gone. Television, light, coffee – misrepresentation. The stranded people speculate what they will probably need most when "Irma" has gone through once. "Tires", believes Steve Pietrzyk, a 53-year-old small-scale entrepreneur. "You'll always have a record, all the stuff that's going to be on the streets."

His wife Lynne taps on chainsaws: "At Hurricane" Andrew "one could not even recognize where the roads were at all, so much scrub lay around there." The 48-year-old has a birthday on Monday, just like another guest, who is peeking through the terrace door towards the pool, which now has a wave of waves. "We're celebrating together here," says Pietrzyk, laughing.

In the eye of the hurricane
In the end, she could have done much worse: her neighbors have come to an arena transformed into an emergency. Steve Pietrzyk shows a photo on his smartphone. People are crowded, almost every square meter is occupied. Almost 10 000 people have found refuge in the hall – more than the arena offers in sleeping space. "People have to sit on the folding chairs on the grandstand, they can not even lie down," says Pietrzyk.

Outside, the storm rages with great power. The eye of the hurricane is now over Bonita Springs. Suddenly: the wind drops, slowly first, then only drizzles. In the sky some cloud gaps. Even the sun is visible. Bonita Springs is in the eye of the hurricane. Only the ignorant cheer. "Now comes the back," says Anita Pereira. In fact, minutes later, the whistling of the wind starts again.

Flashlights and mobile phones
When the current comes back is uncertain. Network operators are not hoping for the coming weeks. The stranded in the "Days Inn" is no better than five other million of the well 20 million inhabitants of Florida. With flashlights and cell phones that feed off the last residual electricity, the guests tap through stairs and hallways.

From the 77-year-old, who lives a few miles further in a caravan park, to the family with beach house. In the hall, a pair of Latin Americans pounded up and down. The woman has a small book in her hand. She prays. "Ave Maria."

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