The thing Ross McGee will remember about Hurricane Irma is the noise.

“The sound, you can’t even describe it. It’s so loud,” McGee said. It was Thursday morning, a few days after Irma passed over Florida. McGee still had not returned to his Naples, Florida home. He was still staying with friends in Venice, approximately 100 miles north up the Gulf Coast.

“I’m playing it by ear,” McGee said in the phone interview. He hoped to get home and check his car and apartment by this weekend. “I had people check on my place, but I won’t know about water damage until I get there… Gas is in extremely short supply (in Naples). We have AC and power and water, so we’re not in a hurry to get down there.”

A Fairfield native and Lawrence High School graduate, McGee moved to Florida 10 years ago after graduating from Husson University to try his hand at professional golf. Now, McGee works at the Strand Golf Club. The 27-hole course was hit hard by Irma, and likely will be closed for weeks for the cleanup, McGee said. When he does go home, McGee’s job will be cleaning up the course.

“They think a tornado might’ve gone through the golf course. We lost a lot of trees. There’s debris everywhere,” McGee said.

Trees are down everywhere, McGee said.

“You’re talking trees hundreds of years old completely torn up from the roots,” he said.

Irma was McGee’s second hurricane. The first was Isaac in 2012, but Isaac didn’t charge straight into Naples.

“I didn’t even evacuate,” he said.

This time, McGee had no choice. He and a friend went to Venice. Still in the storms path, but safer.

That indescribable sound, let McGee try to describe it. The shutters are all closed, and you’re sitting in the dark. The wind is a series of trains speeding by you from all directions, shaking everything, for hours.

“It just comes in waves, and it stops, then another wave hits,” McGee said.

The eye of Irma passed overnight, and with it the power went out for a day,” McGee said.

“We might’ve dozed off for a little bit, but no really,” McGee said.

McGee was able to stay in contact with his family in Maine, and let them know he was OK. A friend in Naples sent him photos of the destruction around town.

As bad as the storm was, the days building up to Irma’s landfall were worse, McGee said. Naples was a ball of panic as people waited in line for hours to get gasoline or food. Irma brought out the best in many people, but it brought out the worst, too. Some took more water or gas than they needed. McGee said he saw a fight at the grocery store.

“Just a full-out fistfight over a gallon of water,” McGee said. “You never realize how good you have basic daily things until they are taken from you.”

McGee continued to keep an eye on the news, and talk to friends in Naples. On Thursday, he was still unsure when he’d go home and begin helping the cleanup effort at the Strand. Before he went north, McGee gassed up his car. It looks fine in the photos he’s seen, but he won’t know for sure until he gets home. McGee knows this, the next time a hurricane hits, he’ll get out of Florida.

“I talk to friends and watch the news. I can work any time. We’re very anxious to get back, but not in any rush,” McGee said.

He wanted to go back to Naples, but first, there had to be a Naples to go home to.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

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Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM