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