Getting a first hand account of Hurricane Irma's effect on the Gulf Coast of Florida was not a big challenge. An old friend was happy to check in.

Within moments of texting him Monday morning, the day after the storm struck Florida, Mike Donahue was texting back, then on the phone on our radio show.

He was seeking a lifestyle change from the rough and tumble Central New York winters when he moved to the Tampa-St. Petersburg area in 2016. His experiences with Hurricane Irma this September on the Gulf Coast of Florida brought back some vivid memories of dealing with the wrath of Mother Nature.

"I think the last time I experienced something like this was the Labor Day storm (1998), back when I was still in high school at the time," Donahue told us. "At least we have cell phones now, where you can get on and watch the weather forecasts."

The damage to Tampa-St. Pete turned out to be minimal, compared to other areas of the Sunshine State.

"We didn't get it as bad as the people in the Keys, and Naples, and Ft. Myers area," said Donahue, "they got hit pretty hard."

Donahue told us he rode out the storm at an uncle's house a little bit removed from the areas of Tampa, near the water, that took the biggest hit.

"We were right on the border of one of the main evacuation zones, so we didn't want to stick around for this party," he said.

When Donahue told us about his downtown Tampa apartment, we wondered about the details of his digs, and what the prospects were for major flooding damage.

"I hit the jackpot on this one," he said, "it's a quarter of a mile away from Tampa Bay and I live on the first floor, right on the border of flood zone A."

As it turned out, he found no flooding upon his return to his apartment. Other damage to the area included power outages and downed power lines, though not as bad as anticipated. On Florida's Gulf Coast, life goes on.


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