Tasmanian Matt Ogilvie shares hurricane Irma experience

Warning sirens blast through howling winds, trees are ripped from the ground and coastal roads are being washed away: meet hurricane Irma. 

Tasmanian man Matt Ogilvie has described the destruction caused by Irma as it approached his normally quiet apartment in Orlando, Florida.

“There has been quite a few messages and pleas to evacuate if you live in certain homes and areas,” he said. 

Originally from Burnie, Mr Ogilvie has been living in Florida since 1997. 

The eye of Irma was expected to hit 50 kilometres west of Winter Springs, which is where Mr Ogilvie lives with his wife, Terri.  

The couple chose not to evacuate. 

Florida’s strict building codes gave Mr Ogilvie confidence his newly built apartment was safe.  

“There were so many people leaving the state that it was becoming problematic,” he said. 

“Many people were running out of petrol and finding that petroleum stations did not have any.”

In preparation for the hurricane the couple headed to the shops to stock-up on water and non-perishable items. 

They were confronted with police manning stores to “keep things under control”. 

Communication from authorities and Florida Governor Rick Scott in the past week had been great, Mr Ogilvie said. 

Governor Scott told US media power outages were expected across Florida.

“We do have a lot of resources already in Orlando, so as it passes Orlando we will be able to get those trucks on the road … but it is going to take a while,” he said. 

“That is why we’ve said all week [people need] three days of water and three days of food.

“We are going to do everything we can to help you, but we have to save everybody first.”

At midnight - about 2.30pm AEST - the Ogilvies lost power, forcing them to rely on their generator. 

Mr Ogilvie said they lost power for about 12 hours during hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Matthew was the first category 5 Atlantic hurricane to hit since hurricane Felix in 2007.

But he also acknowledged Irma’s force was far greater than Matthew. 

“Matthew was predictable, but Irma seems to keep everyone guessing,” Mr Ogilvie said.

Irma battered through South Florida causing more than a million power outages.

Florida’s National Weather Service issued a flash flooding warning for several parts of the state’s north-east.

Two days ago Irma was a category 5 hurricane with maximum wind speeds of 300km/h, but it has been downgraded to a category 1.