September 10th, 2017, morning: Having already devastated Puerto Rico and other islands in the Caribbean, Hurricane Irma finally reaches the U.S. mainland when it hit the Florida Keys with category four winds. A category four hurricane means sustained wind speeds, (not momentary peaks), of between 130 miles per hour and 156 miles per hour. Most of the weather models had been predicting that the hurricane would cross over the keys, then turn counter-clockwise into the Gulf of Mexico, where it would hopefully fizzle out.
All the windows on homes and businesses in the Tampa Bay area were boarded up, and the folks who hadn’t yet taken care of this were scrambling to purchase whatever sort of looked like a board from any hardware store still open. Most area retail stores were out of drinking water, and some of the few that had it were charging exorbitant prices. One by one, gas stations ran out of fuel. More fuel was on the way, but the highways were clogged with people trying to get out of the state, making fuel deliveries challenging.
As evening came, the only thing on TV and radio were constant weather reports and interpretations of the latest spaghetti models. Nobody knew anything for sure, but an alarming trend was showing the hurricane going right up the coast, first through Naples, then Fort Myers; and it didn’t look like it was turning West toward the Gulf. The light outside was turning a sickly greenish-yellow color. After sundown, two facts were known for sure; it was coming straight for us, and everyone would lose power.
As the night progress, sustained wind speeds had slowed down to 110, downgrading it to a category two hurricane, and it had not only turned slightly East, but it was heading for my town. For hours the volume of wind noise got louder and louder, and the sideways rain hit harder and harder.
Then the power went out.
By midnight, September 11th, the rain stopped and the wind noise was instantly muted as the eye of the hurricane passed directly over our house.
We had plenty of lamps and batteries to power them, so that was OK. What we didn’t have any more was air-conditioning, and it wasn’t like opening the windows was an option. So, we tried to sleep. It was hot and it was sweaty. I remember getting up a couple times to take cold showers, then going back to bed without drying off, just to feel some coolness. Then, next morning as we surveyed the damage, I started receiving texts from loved ones and friends checking in. Nobody had power, and some were sort of signing off for the foreseeable future because their phones were dying. That was one thing I wasn’t worried about at all.
I was using my Galaxy S8, and shortly before midnight, I had switched it to maximum power saving mode. This feature effectively transforms the S8 from one of the most powerful smartphones on the market to a severely crippled dumb-phone. I wouldn’t be playing Angry Birds anytime soon, because in this mode, all you can do is only a very few limited tasks, such as make phone calls, send and receive texts, I think there was a calculator function. Even the launcher is different. There are no menus full of apps once you turn this mode on. Just what’s on the screen, and the screen brightness is limited and the resolution is reduced to its lowest setting. So here I am, with a water-resistant phone that’s going to last me about fifty hours.
My family and I were especially fortunate; nobody was hurt, just severely shaken up; our house had relatively little damage, (which was because we were right under the eye), and our power came back on in a couple of days. We lost a little vinyl fence that hid our trash and recycling cans from street view, and my television antenna was twisted into a pretzel. My Galaxy S8 was still going strong by the time the power came back on.
Later that day, we drove around town to see all the destruction, but mostly because we were going stir crazy, and our car has air conditioning. I was able to take photos of the damage all around me using my S8, still on its charge from the day before. The other passengers in my car were utilizing all the cigarette lighters to charge their phones back up, but mine was still going strong.
So now it is May, six months later, and roofs are still missing, storefronts are still being rebuilt, trees are still being cut down. It is also the official start to the new hurricane season, which means it’s also the start of hurricane preparedness in Florida. There’s a long checklist I need to go through, but one thing I don’t have to worry about is communication, as I’ve got a Galaxy S9 now. It does everything my S8 does, only better. For me, the Galaxy S line is a tried and tested tool, something essential, not just an accessory, and having it with me through the storm was comforting. I can get 54 hours on my S9 in maximum power saving mode. Naturally, I hope the hurricanes skip my area this season, but just in case, I’ll be keeping my S9 close and my family closer.
Disclaimer: The Product Ambassadors are Sprint employees from many different parts of the company that love technology. They volunteer to test out all sorts of Sprint devices and offer opinions freely to the Community. Each Product Ambassador shares their own opinions of these devices, therefore the information in this post does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sprint. The PA's do not represent the company in an official way, and should not be expected to respond to Community members in an official capacity. #sprintemployee