doc

A CWMBRAN mum on holiday in Florida has spoken of the moment Hurricane Irma battered the region as her family were caught in the 'eye of the storm'.

Nicola Weaver was staying in a villa with her husband, two children and other family in Clermont, Lake County, when the hurricane hit the region on Sunday afternoon.

The storm has already battered the north coast of Cuba and has now hit Florida, killing a number of people.

"The hurricane winds started at around 3pm Sunday afternoon, and quickly picked up to a speed that I have never experienced before," said Mrs Weaver.

"Within seconds of stepping outside, we were soaked to the skin, as the rain was so torrential, and driving at such a force, that it was impossible to stand.

"The noise of the winds can only be described as a roaring sound, and we are still experiencing high winds now.

"We were not forecast to be in direct line of the hurricane, though it changed direction, and we were in its direct path, including experiencing the the effect of the eye of the storm, which is always a surreal experience."

Mrs Weaver said a curfew was issued on Saturday as the storm gathered pace and the family are unable to leave their villa.

"We were one of the fortunate ones, who was able to maintain our power throughout the whole experience, though many times throughout the night the power dipped in and out," she added.

"Our kitchen was flooded, as water was pouring in through the window, and from under the units, so much of the evening was spent mopping up and trying to maintain minimal damage.

"We have lost much of the netting surrounding our pool area, and many trees are down in the surrounding neighbourhood.

"Around 2am this morning (Monday) the transformer, which is located very close to our villa, tripped, as myself and another member of our party were stood by the front door, and seemed to explode, releasing sparks in front of us, which we originally thought to be lightning, though we quickly realised what it was."

More than six million people in Florida and Georgia have been urged to leave their homes, while tens of thousands of people were huddling in shelters as the National Hurricane Centre warned the storm would bring 130 mph winds, torrential rain and storm surges of up to 15ft.

There are fears the low-lying Florida Keys, where near hurricane-force wind gusts were recorded late on Saturday, will suffer catastrophic damage.