BuzzFeed News reporters Lissandra Villa and Amber Jamieson are in Florida to report on Hurricane Irma. They spent the weekend holed up in a hotel near the Miami airport, away from flooding and evacuation zones and surrounded by hurricane-proof glass. Original predictions showed the city would be in the eye of the storm, but by Saturday morning, the storm had shifted west. But with hurricane-force winds lashing most of the state, they were forced to stay put. Here’s how they spent the weekend waiting out the storm.
8 a.m. Saturday
We woke up and the weather was beginning to get a little windy, but it was still calm. We wondered if we had time to quickly drive to Naples, since new National Weather Center forecasts showed the storm shifting west, and likely to make a direct hit there. But we decided we wouldn't be able to make it back to Miami before the storm hit, so we stayed instead.
Saturday, 11 a.m.
Saturday, 12:20 p.m.
Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
Saturday, 5:25 p.m.
Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, 9 p.m.
Saturday, 11 p.m.
Sunday, 8 a.m.
Woke up to a spooky, whistling wind outside and the news that Miami International Airport, not far from our hotel, was reporting sustained winds of 43 miles per hour and gusts up to 70 miles per hour.
Sunday, 8:25 a.m.
Sunday, 9:30 a.m.
Went down for breakfast and realized the elevators were out of service. The first set of stairs we tried led us straight into the storm outside, but eventually we found our way down.
Despite having plenty of drinking water, we filled the bathtub halfway when we got back to the room, just in case we needed to use the water to flush the toilet, or wash hands, or whatever.
Sunday, 10:30 a.m.
We went live on Facebook and then on Instagram, talking to a couple of guests at the hotel. Two of them were tourists trying to get back to Switzerland, after their flights were cancelled due to the storm. They said family and friends were worried about them.
One guest we interviewed talked about how difficult it was for his wife, who was in a wheelchair, to get around the hotel without elevators. She had to be carried up to their room on the third floor. The guest was out walking his dog, Rocket.
Sunday, 11:30 a.m.
Sunday, 12:30 p.m.
The hotel fire alarms went off, as Irma's winds started to hit Miami. Amber grabbed her passport, wallet, electronics, and raincoat and put on heavy boots.
Sunday, 1 p.m.
Sunday, 1:20 p.m.
Sunday, 2:35 p.m.
Sunday, 3:35 p.m.
Irma made second landfall in Florida on Marco Island, about a 100 miles west of us in Miami.
Sunday, 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, 5:45 p.m.
The power went out again, and seemed to take an usually long time to come back. We stayed in the lobby bar for a while, talking to other people stranded there, and having a drink in the dark.
Sunday, 9 p.m.
Started to plan our reporting for the next few days. It's clear there's a lot of damage in Miami, but other parts of the state were hit harder, so we're planning to head west and south first thing Monday morning. And we're grateful that we had a safe place to ride out the storm.
Lissandra Villa is a politics reporter with BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Lissandra Villa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amber Jamieson is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Amber Jamieson at email@example.com.
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