Florida Residents Rescue Dolphin after Hurricane Irma

As Hurricane Irma whipped through the coast of Florida, residents who stayed behind wondered if they made the right decision. As the eye wall of the hurricane passed Marco Island, Florida, the howling winds and torrential downpours pounded the sides of homes, ripping off roofs, splitting trees, and flooding roads. The storm surge overtook this tiny island around 3:30pm on Sunday, September 10th with winds up to 130 mph and the seawall breaking several feet. Once the storm had passed, those who stayed behind- rescue crews, National Guard, EMTs, police, fireman, and brave residents- went out to assess the damage. They were met with water flowing through the streets, up to mailboxes in some areas. Trees were torn down, blocking roads and thrown through living rooms. And for a few Marco Island residents, they were met with another unexpected visitor- a dolphin who had washed up out of the bay and into the streets as a result of Irma’s catastrophic winds and rocky seas. 

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There is no doubt that in the aftermath of natural disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, those who are affected the most, the residents, seem to band together to help each other in every capacity possible. This includes dramatic rescues of not only the human population, but also the animals that are either left behind by owners or those who take up residency there as locals. All too often we hear stories of dogs, cats, and other domesticated animals who are in need of help during these storms, but luckily many of these stories are coupled with people who are rescuing the animals in need. This holds true for Bruce, Drew, and their neighbors who discovered a stranded dolphin in their neighborhood streets once the winds of Irma calmed down.

Bruce, a restaurant owner in Marco Island, Florida, decided to stay hunkered down on their little island to wait for Hurricane Irma to pass. Between his family and his girlfriend’s, they own two businesses and nine properties. “It just didn’t make sense for us to leave by the time we knew we could,” he says. They spent Sunday night in a nearby condo, sleeping on the cold, wet tile of the fifth floor to stay safe from the impending storm surge.

By the time the storm had settled on Monday morning, Bruce and his family headed out to survey the damage. Although Hurricane Irma was a terrifying experience, it seems her bark was worse than her bite. “One in about every 40 to 50 roofs are damaged. Which is a lot better than the every 3 to 5 we expected,” says Bruce. News started to stream in that they might be out of power for 3 weeks to a month; but as a business owner, Bruce doesn’t seem worried. “I think we will have power back in about 2 weeks. The roads are already cleared- you can get anywhere on the island at this point.”

As they made their way around town, Bruce got a call from his friend, Drew. “He called and said he found this young dolphin while he was out checking out damage. He needed some help to get it back into the water.” Bruce didn’t hesitate to get into his truck and head over to Drew’s location. There he found a scared, young dolphin who needed help. They called authorities to see if they could come help but they were too overwhelmed. “They kind of laughed at us and said there was no way they could get out there.” So they took matters into their own hands.

After some discussion about what they should do- including putting the dolphin in a pool for the time being- they decided they needed to get her back into the bay. However, that task was harder than it seemed. The dolphin was 40 to 50 yards away from the bay with a 4’ to 5’ jetty in between. The only way to get her back was to put her in Bruce’s truck and drive her to a nearby boat ramp.

The little dolphin, although scared and tired, was back in the bay. “We don’t know if she was injured or if she will survive, but we think she has a better chance back in the bay than she did waiting for (authorities).”

But things like this are just another part of what Bruce, Drew, and the residents of Marco Island are all about- helping those in need. Bruce’s restaurant, Kretch’s, was open the Friday before the storm because several residents who stayed in the area were simply looking for a hot meal or for food to stock up on before the storm hit. Bruce even plans to open back up on Tuesday so rescue crews, fire and police, and residents can get something to eat. “We will be out here grilling for anyone in the community who just wants a hot meal,” he says. “It will be awhile until we can get that, and we just want to help.”

Even with all the damage that Hurricanes Irma and Harvey caused, one thing continues to hold: Communities will band together in a time of need to help their neighbors whether they have two legs, four legs, or flippers.

If you are in the Marco Island area and are looking for a hot meal, visit Kretch’s from 2pm to 5pm on Tuesday, September 12th. Meals are free but donations are appreciated.

As of the morning of September 11, 2017, Hurricane Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm. But the damage she left in her wake is being felt by residents all over Marco Island, Florida. Reports are stating that over 6 million residents are without power and 7 are confirmed dead. Initial damage reports are coming in at the millions, with several homes, businesses, and infrastructure being damaged or completely destroyed. Officials are stating that it may take years for the area to fully see the restoration from Hurricane Irma, but it’s safe to say that at least one Florida resident is happily back at their home under the sea thanks to people like Bruce, Drew, and their neighbors.

To read about what you should have in your safety preparedness kit in case of a natural disaster at your home check out, “10 Ways to Prepare your Family for Natural Disaster” here on Daily Mom.

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Lauren Lomsdale

Lauren is a full-time mom of three girls, who also happens to run her own in-home preschool. She loves to write, run, yoga-it-out, and keep fit. She’s kind of crunchy in her homeschooling, cloth diapering, and natural products sort of way, but she also loves Starbucks and trashy tv. For more about her internal judgments of herself and hilarious quips about motherhood, follow her on IG and Twitter @thescoopmama, fb.com/thescoopmama, as well as her website theSCOOPmama.

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