Irma Final Post 3:30 am Saturday

Tomorrow (Sunday, September 16th) we reopen. We spent all day Friday putting things back together, rehanging the art and doing the finishing touches to get the Museum ready for the public. Some staff will come in today to catch up on projects they were working on before the storm hit.

Lakeland was hit very hard by this Hurricane Irma. When you drive down my street, there is nothing but a wall of brush pile lining it for a mile. Lakeland Electric Crews, The City of Lakeland crews, lineman from out of state, Police, Fire/Rescue, National Guard, volunteers, churches, etc. all came together and are still coming together to rebuild Lakeland (and Florida). Right after the power came back on the City Manager, Tony Delgado personally came to the Museum to check that the power came back on. My new next door neighbor and her daughter knew I was having to live in the Museum to guard it so they cleared my yard for me between our houses. I have heard of many stories of neighbors helping neighbors in the aftermath of Irma. To everyone rebuilding Lakeland, I say thank you.

-Gregory Mills (DIrector of Security, Operations & Security)

Part of the wall surrounding the chiller blew over.

Part of the wall surrounding the chiller blew over.

My Home for 5 days. Paisley and I slept in the entrance to the Auditorum. 

My Home for 5 days. Paisley and I slept in the entrance to the Auditorum. 

Seven Trees behind the meseum blew over or snapt off at the base from the wind. 

Seven Trees behind the meseum blew over or snapt off at the base from the wind. 

The storm blew every dead stick, limb and branch from the trees down on The side of my house before My next door NEIGHBOR and her DAUGHTER cleaned it up for me while I was living in the MUSEUM. It is Nice To Have Good Neighbors! 

The storm blew every dead stick, limb and branch from the trees down on The side of my house before My next door NEIGHBOR and her DAUGHTER cleaned it up for me while I was living in the MUSEUM. It is Nice To Have Good Neighbors! 

Brush piles lining the roads of lime st

Brush piles lining the roads of lime st

Power Is Back On!

The power came back on about 2 hours ago. The chillers and HVAC (Air Conditioning) just came back online too.  All the alarms are functioning as normal. Paisley and I get to go home and sleep in our own bed in an air condition house for the first time since Sunday. Tomorrow we start putting everything back together. 

The one thing we don't have is our internet. We will have to rely on our backup line which is slower (no streaming video or streaming music). 

-Gregory Mills (Director of Security, Operations & Technology)

Irma Aftermath 8:00 am Thrusday

Bad News. The Emergency Operations Center said yesterday that if you do not have power by then end of the day yesterday, you will not get it restored anytime soon. They have repaired all the easy stuff. What is left has to be rebuilt which will take much longer. Looks like I will be sleeping here for the foreseeable future.

Good News. Thanks to our affiliation with Florida Southern College (and Pal's determination) we were able to get a generator. We are using the generator to run dehumidifiers in Collections and Art Storage. This will at least prevent mold growth from damaging the art.

 

Irma Aftermath 8:00 pm Tuesday

Still no power. Today Joe and I managed to do temporary repairs to the damage to the roof. Tomorrow Joe is going to clean up the damage from the roof leak in the liquor closet while I go home long enough to clean up the damage to my yard. 

I got power to my house today so during the day, Paisley can stay home. At night she will still stay at the Museum if it is not too hot for her. Hopefully we will get power to the Museum soon!

-Gregory Mills (Directory of Security, Operations & Technology) 

Irma Aftermath 1:00 AM Tuesday

Still no power. Everyone has gone home except for Paisley and me. I will stay 24/7 until power is restored. If it gets hot tomorrow as expected, I may find someone with power to keep Paisley until this is over. Any takers? Send me a text.

-Gregory Mills (Director of Security, Operations & Technology) 

Anyone with air conditioning want to keep Paisley until the Museum gets electricity? 

Anyone with air conditioning want to keep Paisley until the Museum gets electricity? 

Irma: After the storm

We made it though the storm but not without incident. Everyone who stayed is fine. The eye of Hurricane Irma went directly over the top of us. Around 11:00 PM we lost all power to the building, we also lost all internet and we could not even get internet on our phones. Right now we have no power or internet. 

During the night the following damage happened to the Museum:

  • Roof leaked in the liquor closet
  • Auditorium doors leaked about 4 gallons of water
  • One of the duct covers on the roof blew off
  • One of the walls surrounding the chiller collapsed 
  • The glass block in the library leaked
  • 80% of the trees against the back of the building blew over

It could have been much worse. Right now there is nothing anyone can do to help so please don't come to the Museum to try and help. We need electricity first. 

-Gregory Mills (Director of Security, Operations & Technology)

Irma Update 10:00 PM Sunday

As of right now we are in the thick of it. From what I have heard, the winds are blowing 85 mph and it is a constant downpour. Our auditorium emergency exit door are leaking about 2 gallons per hour. We have had some damage to the gate surrounding our HVAC chiller. We have also lost power to half the building. As a result of the loss of power, part of out HVAC system is not working. The humidity is approaching 80% in our prep area but fortunately there is no art there. Collections and the Galleries are still OK. I called Lakeland Electric and as soon as the winds get below 35 mph, they will start restoring power.

In the meantime, we do not have network or internet access so I am posting this with my phone. I think I hear a new leak and need to go investigate...

-Gregory Mills (Director of Security, Operation & Technology) 

IRMA UPDATE 10:00 AM SUNDAY

I came to the Museum and opened up about 8:00 am. It is raining consistently but the wind is only a light breeze. Matt and his roommate are here. Loren and her husband should be on their way.  Everyone staying will be assigned an area to sleep in so they can keep an eye on the art or the building. This way we can spring into action should damage occur. We will also make patrols throughout the storm to check on the classrooms, offices and other spaces we are not occupying. 

Without knowing how long we will be stuck here, and with my job as head of security, I came prepared to stay a full week with no food, water, power or any support. Hopefully I wont need 90% of what I brought but having things like two solar generators, water purification/filters, a camping shower, etc. is good piece of mind. 

-Gregory Mills (Director of Security, Operations & Technology) 

My hurricane kit. Everything is kept in waterproof Pelican cases (except for Paisley). 

My hurricane kit. Everything is kept in waterproof Pelican cases (except for Paisley). 

Irma Update 3:00 am Sunday

2:48 am and the first of Hurricane Irma's rains arrived in Lakeland. It has been breezy up until now but the wind started picking up noticeably. After the band of rain went through, the winds calmed down again about 3:00. That is pretty typical during a hurricane. There will be a feeder band come through and it will pour down rain and the wind will blow really hard then it will calm down for a little while and occasionally even stop raining. That is the time to race out and walk my dog! 

The Polk Museum of Art's Disaster Team will arrive at the Museum at 9:00 am Sunday to stay for the duration of the storm to protect the artworks and the building. Hurricane force winds are expected to arrive in the Sunday afternoon or early evening and last into Monday. Polk County Schools have announced they are closed on Tuesday and the Museum is closed until further notice. I am hoping we will be open within 24 hours of getting power restored. First we have to put all the art back on exhibit! Earlier we removed the artworks from any vulnerable areas and put them in the vault. With any luck, we will open to the public Wednesday or perhaps Thursday.

This will be at least my 6th or possibly my 7th time riding out a hurricane in the Museum in my 20 years here as the Disaster Preparedness Coordinator. All necessary preparations were done ahead of time, so I feel confident we can ride out this hurricane too (knock on wood).

-Gregory Mills, Director of Security, Operations & Technology

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