(POMPANO BEACH, Fla.) — A Florida-based journalist who covered the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey is now preparing her own home for yet another powerful hurricane headed toward the U.S.
Freelance network television news producer Karen D’Uva, 57, acknowledged the coincidence in her role reversal for the back-to-back hurricanes, telling ABC News that she does not want to become a victim of Hurricane Irma.
“I’m sort of numb right now that I’m actually part of the story,” she said. “I’ve been crying all day.”
D’Uva said she was in Houston for a week after Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Lone Star State, calling the destruction there “unexpected” and “heartbreaking.” The whole time, D’Uva said she kept thinking, “That could be me.”
“I can’t imagine people walking out of their homes and leaving everything behind,” she said.
D’Uva said she felt “fatigued” after experiencing the devastation
D’Uva’s home on a barrier island in Pompano Beach — north of Fort Lauderdale — is in a mandatory evacuation zone and is at risk for storm surge and flooding.
She spent the day Thursday securing her “old Florida” home — built in 1954 — for the powerful storm by opening her hurricane shutters, bringing patio furniture and potted plants inside and moving important items inside the home to higher ground, she said.
“I don’t know what I’m going to be coming back to in a couple of days,” she said.
D’Uva said she’s been in an emotional state as she’s had to decide what to take from her home and what to leave behind, adding that she knows she “can’t take everything.” So far, D’Uva has packed mainly photos and memories from her television career — “just things that you cannot replace,” she said.
Once D’Uva is done preparing her home, she’s off to do the same for her 86-year-old mother, who lives about a mile away.
D’Uva plans on evacuating to either Naples or to her condo in Mount Dora early Friday morning with her mother and her “kids” — her cat, Violet Crawley, and dog, Mr. Carson — before the bridges to the barrier island shut down at noon.
The hardest part of evacuating is leaving her home, which D’Uva said she’s been living in for 17 years.
“I look around my house, and it’s a lifetime of memories,” she said … “I don’t want to come back and everything is under water and blown away and you never see it again.”
D’Uva said that once the storm passes, she hopes to return to work. As a television producer for more 37 years and a Floridian for more than 20 years, D’Uva has been through her fair share of hurricanes, she said, but after experiencing the aftermath of Harvey, Irma’s threat “just feels different,” she said.
“Of all the times, this is the time where it’s really hitting me,” D’Uva said.
Hurricane Irma is expected to make landfall in South Florida, near Miami, Sunday morning as a Category 4 storm, bringing fierce winds, heavy rain and a potentially life-threatening storm surge.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who declared a statewide emergency earlier this week, has warned that the “massive storm” could be more treacherous than Hurricane Andrew, which devastated the Sunshine State 25 years ago.
D’Uva said that as worried as she is about her beloved home, the most important thing is that her family and colleagues stay safe.
“All you can do is pray,” she said.
Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.