Don't put off preparations, Hurricane Matthew victims say

By Tammie Fields, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, September 04, 2017, 10:27 PM EDT

With all eyes on the path of category 4 Hurricane Irma, a Flagler Beach couple wants us all to remember that the road to rebuilding their lives after a storm can be a long one.

They say that's why preparing for these storms can make all the difference.

On Beth and Joel's street you can hear the sounds of rebuilding. “We never thought it would be as bad as it was,” Joel said. 

It’s been 11 months since Hurricane Matthew slammed into Flagler Beach, changing the couple's lives forever. They live on a salt water canal and thought after evacuating they might have flooding. But it was the wind that did all the damage, ripping away the roof of their home that they'd just recently finished renovating.  

"It was very emotional. My son was only 9 months old at the time,” Beth said.

The Boyles say they can relate to what Texans impacted by Hurricane Harvey are going through. They know the pain of losing just about everything, especially a home.

“Our roof had been peeled off and put on top of hers,” Joel said, pointing to a neighbor's house.

“A lot of times people say it’s material things and I totally get that," Beth said. "But it’s memories -- this life that you built. It is completely heartwrenching for me. It’s hard to even watch anything on the news. It brings back a lot of anxiety -- a lot of fear -- a lot of emotions for me.”

The Boyles know the survivors have a long long road ahead. “It’s an extremely long process – going on a year," Beth said. "It’s going to be two years before we’re back together in our home as a family.” 

With Hurricane Irma strengthening to a Category 4 storm, Beth says it's important to be prepared.

"I told her when [Hurricane Matthew] started to come to us to get all our paperwork, everything of value, pictures, anything irreplaceable," Beth said. "About 3 days before the storm, he came and gave me the drill and was like, 'you need to get everything together.'" 

She says she immediately started to pack. "Bottles, pacifiers, blankets -- I wanted his crib. Our important documents, social security cards, insurance policies, birth certificates, pictures, checkbooks." 

The couple had friends and family who live more inland -- they asked them to take their furniture and computers. Beth says she was frantically packing until 2 a.m. at times, and now looking back she wishes she'd started sooner.

"There was friends and family that thought I was going a little overboard," she said she has no regrets though and you shouldn't either. "Looking back, I wish I'd had an emergency list so I could have gone down and checked that list. It would have saved a lot of time."

With all eyes turning to Hurricane Irma, Beth says now is the time to read your insurance policies closely. See if you have specific coverage for wind, flooding or hurricane damage, because that can make all the difference.

She says it's also critical that you take photographs or video of all the rooms in your home, so if your home is damaged or destroyed, you can give the insurance adjuster a complete list of all your belongings.

Beth says you may be too distraught after the storm to remember all the items in your home.

The Boyles are watching Hurricane Irma closely. "We are praying this hurricane doesn't hit," Beth said.