Key Largo couple says Irma took water away from Florida Bay

KEY LARGO, FLA. (WSVN) - Many Florida Keys dealt with storm surge and flooding during and after Hurricane Irma, but a Key Largo couple who rode out the storm said they were confronted with a sudden lack of water.

When Jacques and Melody Novoa woke up and peaked out their shuttered window the morning Hurricane Irma took aim at the Keys, they noticed something strange.

“When we peaked outside, we realized that the whole bay had been gone,” said Jacques. “There was nothing. You could see, from here to the islands, pure land.”

The storm had taken away the water in Florida Bay. What normally would look like a large body of water behind the couple’s townhouse on the west side of U.S. was reduced to a series of puddles.

“We had never seen this before, so we said, ‘We had to go out there and [record] video,'” said Jacques.

Even with some wind and rain, the couple walked out into the emptiness, with only ankle-deep pockets of ponding water in their way.

The Novoas grabbed onto a Slow No Wake buoy about 100 yards out. Jacques estimated they walked as far as 1,000 yards offshore.

So to what does the couple attribute the absence of water? Wind direction.

“I saw, physically with my eyes, that the wind was coming this way at the time, it was taking the water, pushing it away from the bay, pushing it out,” said Jacques.

Jacques said the water disappeared for about 10 hours before the bay started to fill back in, Sunday afternoon.

That return concerned the Novoas. “The minutes we were out there, and also the time that we realized this, we were worried about what was going to happen with the water coming back,” said Jacques. “If it drained out, will it come back twice as hard?”

Thankfully, it didn’t. The seawater in the couple’s neighborhood never made it up to the homes.

Still, they were left to marvel at Mother Nature’s power. “We were in awe. We were speechless,” said Jacques.

“It was worth it,” said Melody.

“There were just no words, to be able to say, ‘This is where we boat. This is where we fish. This is where we swim,'” said Jacques, “so we’re standing here now.”

But while it may have been a unique sight, the couple admitted going out into the bay wasn’t exactly a smart idea. “When we were out there, actually, that’s when we thought it was definitely not a good idea,” said Jacques. “We wouldn’t recommend it to anybody.”

Of the 280 units at the Novoas’ complex, only a few residents rode out the storm. When the Novoas told their story to neighbors, they said many thought they were exaggerating, at least until they saw the couple’s pictures.

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