Ashley Waters (center), flanked by her children Jayden (left) and Julia, sits in front of their flooded home as water continues to rise a day after Hurricane Irma hit the region. The family stayed at their home during the storm and didn’t evacuate.

Photographer: Philip Montgomery for Bloomberg Businessweek

Surviving Irma

The hurricane in pictures. Documented by Philip Montgomery.

“We were meant to stay,” Ashley Waters says of her family’s decision not to evacuate their Bonita Springs, Fla., home as Hurricane Irma approached on Sept. 10. The family—Waters and her children, Jayden and Julia, along with her partner, Darby Chew—couldn’t afford to leave, she says. In the midst of the storm, as the power flicked on and off and explosions could be heard outside, a neighbor came in search of shelter. The roof of his house collapsed when a tree from Waters’s backyard fell on it. “I don’t know what would have happened to that man if we’d left,” she says. The next day, the water continued to rise. Waters had expected inches of it, not feet. Like other Florida residents whose homes were damaged, she’s now focusing on salvaging what she can and finding another place to live. 

(From left) Storm clouds move in and roads empty on one of Miami’s causeways several hours prior to Hurricane Irma’s landfall in Florida; Miami resident Chris Martin embraces a crosswalk pole in floodwater on Brickell Avenue in downtown Miami during Irma’s landfall.
Photographer: Philip Montgomery for Bloomberg Businessweek
Thousands of Florida residents take shelter at Miami-Dade County Fair & Expo.
Photographer: Philip Montgomery for Bloomberg Businessweek
Martin makes his way through floodwater on Brickell Avenue. 
Photographer: Philip Montgomery for Bloomberg Businessweek
Residents work to recover possessions after their home was damaged by at least four feet of floodwater a day after Irma passed through Lee County on Florida’s southwest coast.
Photographer: Philip Montgomery for Bloomberg Businessweek
Downed trees and floodwaters envelope a home in Bonita Springs a day after Irma passed through Lee County.
Photographer: Philip Montgomery for Bloomberg Businessweek
Naples firefighters try to dismember a massive tree that was blocking a residential street.
Photographer: Philip Montgomery for Bloomberg Businessweek
Julia Waters (left) and her brother, Jayden, stand in the kitchen of their home as floodwater continues to rise a day after Irma passed through Lee County.
Photographer: Philip Montgomery for Bloomberg Businessweek
Downed trees and floodwater in Bonita Springs.
Photographer: Philip Montgomery for Bloomberg Businessweek