LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — The devastation in Polk County can be seen everywhere. Everywhere you look – massive trees are down in roads, ditches and sidewalks. Limbs were tossed around like swizzle sticks across the landscape. Power poles snapped in half. It was as if Mother Nature herself reached down and took tiny twigs in her hands and broke them during a moment when Central Florida was most vulnerable.
As the eyewall passed through the city of Lakeland in the early morning hours, just after midnight Monday morning, people felt it.
They felt the ground shake.
They listened to the raging winds, roaring through their windows.
In fact, it’s the sounds they heard that they are now left with in Irma’s week. Resident after resident described the storm’s arrival in the city – as an “explosion,” “a freight train” and “a crashing boom.”
As one grandmother explained to us in detail what she heard, she clung to her grandbabies tightly. She described how, as the storm rolled through, she found safety in the hallway of her home, her arms wrapped around the grandchildren. “I don’t ever want to go through that again,” she explained. “I am grateful that God spared us and it was not as bad as we thought. But, it was scary.”
Dee Borgmeyer is a resident at Meadow Brook Mobile home park in Lakeland. At one point, the landscape surrounding her home turned into a river.
Roads were impassable.
Mobile homes were submerged.
In some cases, the water was waist deep. Dee and her husband took refuge in the park’s clubhouse as the winds howled outside.
Now, she tells us, there is no home for her to return to as it is flooded.
And, even if she wanted to return home, the roads continue to be submerged, hours after Irma is gone. She told us, “This is catastrophic. It is devastating. I am from West Virginia and we don’t have things like this. I looked at my husband I didn’t know what to do and where to go. It is truly catastrophic.”
According to Lakeland electric, 68,000 people remain without power tonight. Crews are using every bit of daylight they have to get the electricity restored once again. On Monday alone, they were able to get 10,000 people up and running.
However, this could be a slow process. Sources tell WFLA it could be weeks before some people see power restored.